You can't care about your customers unless you care about your customers.
No amount of customer training will make up for an employee who simply does not care. I saw this in action today.
I was flying American Airlines and they have partnered with a charity called "Snowflakes" to fly kids of fallen soldiers and their families to Dallas for some Christmas cheer, entertainment, and love. These are kids who have lost a parent in battle, and it's Christmas. And here is how the flight attendant at the gate prefaced his announcement that there were snowflake families on board the plane:
"I apologize, but I have to make an announcement, and they are making me read it verbatim. So if you'll just bear with me."
I'm not kidding. And I'm not exaggerating. He apologized for what he was being forced to read. And then he told us about the special children on board our plane. And without missing a beat, he told them they could board, and walked off.Thank God for one kind old man who stood up and started clapping, or the moment would have disappeared into priority boarding and first class.
I was stunned. He said the words they had told him to say and began by apologizing for what he was forced to say verbatim. Just like a kid who is being forced to apologize and says, "I'm sorry, but only because they're making me say it." In that moment he represented American Airlines. He became their brand. And in a moment, he undid the beautiful gesture. He negated its value. His words said, "We're doing this, but not because we want to." How unfair to the brand. How unfair to American Airlines. And how unfair to those children.
Then we get on the plane and pilot makes the same announcement, but with such heartfelt sincerity and appreciation that it sounded like he was actually crying in the cock pit. He gave them the appreciation they deserved, he took his time giving them their moment, and it was beautiful. In that moment, he told the story of the brand. And he meant it. And in that moment he redeemed the story of American Airlines.
Back to the flight attendant.
I don't envy their jobs. They face a lot of crap every day. They have to be the front line for all these problems they didn't cause. They deal with angry people, crazy people, and people who ask the same questions four thousand times. I truly do admire flight attendants and their ability to smile and handle their jobs with grace. I couldn't do it. But this guy does not represent them well. Maybe he had a bad day. Maybe he has no clue how he came across. But if he's like this in other ways, he's making his job a lot harder than it needs to be. Customers are much easier to work with when you care about working with them.
Okay. I'm done.