Sunday, October 21, 2007

Small things matter

I've always thought that small details often say much, much more than their size would imply.

Here's an example. I'm sitting in the gate area after security waiting to board NorthWest flight 69 to Boston. As usual at Schiphol on a Sunday it is busy.

In front of me are two guys with fairly large bags. These are placed to the sides of their chairs partially blocking the way through to the 'plane. There's enough room for a person to walk through though. Besides who can blame them there's nowhere else to put their bags.

Along comes a NorthWest flight attendant in uniform with two wheeled bags one in each hand. He's a wide load and obviously cannot quite get through the gap.

So what does he do? Does he wheel one bag through at a time? Does he ask politely if one of the guys could move his bag?

Nope. He blasts through pushing the bags sideways partially running over the corner of one of them. He doesn't even turn around to look, let alone apologise.

Now what does that tell you about NorthWest's attitude to customers?

All of us sitting here will board the 'plane. We are all customers even if we are not yet on board.

It's a small, tiny detail - insignificant to some I am sure - but I suspect it is telling sign.

Working in the service sector is tough. Customers are often rude and ungrateful. However I would maintain that every single interaction with a customer - whether minor or major, whether on duty or off duty, whether in the 'plane or outside it - is an opportunity to shine or stink.

Think about the companies you respect for fabulous customer service. Think about the sort of people they employ. And think about what they would have done in this situation. They would have had respect for us poor passengers and not because there was a corporate communication saying be nice to customers. They would have respect because that's the kind of person they are.

The NorthWest guy pushed through because that's the knd of person he is.

That's what small details are - they are indicators of the kind of people we really are.

UPDATE turns out the guy was the senior flight attendant on the flight

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