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It would have been so much easier to make us happy

I was at a major theme park in Texas last week. Great experience — until the end.

They had a smart offer — before the end of your visit, you could upgrade your 1-day ticket to an annual pass for only 50% more. So we got in line to upgrade, with a bunch of other people.

It was an angry place.

One family didn’t get the right package deal for military families. They were with their uniformed son. It took four supervisors and 30 minutes of arguing to give them some crappy credit for discount food (which was useless because they were already done for the day). What should have happened: The park should have apologized, handed the airman a 10-pack of passes, and told him to bring all his friends. It would have cost nothing, the word of mouth would have been great, and they would have sold more food than the tickets were worth.

Another family entered the park before they realized that it was closing early that day. They just wanted to leave and come back the next day. It took four supervisors and 30 minutes of arguing to grant this simple request. What should have happened: The park should have handed them tickets for the next day, apologized for the confusion, and thrown in a few coupons for free sodas.

The rest of us waited 30 minutes to give them cash to upgrade to an annual pass. There was as least $1,000 in easy revenue in that line. Half the people gave up, annoyed with the idiot managers and the delay. We were frustrated with the incompetence and embarrassed for how the previous two families were treated. What should have happened: a) Install a kiosk so you can get our money faster, b) Hire an extra person to staff one of the four closed cash registers, or c) Give us a code to upgrade online the next day. Whatever you do, giving you money should never be an inconvenience to your customers.

I rarely write posts about incompetence like this, because there are plenty out there. But it’s important to remember that creeping idiocy like this is what kills companies (slowly, over time).

But the more important lesson is how easy it would be to fix these things and turn angry people into raving fans.

Start the year committed to thrilling people.

Here’s your how-to-be-awesome reading list:

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