I had one of those "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" travel experiences this week. The above exchange occurred fairly early in the travel fiasco; the best thing about it was that it provided one of the most stark contrasts in perspectives between Company and Customer that I've witnessed in a very long time.
In the midst of the exchange, while the gate agent exerted imagined authority and passengers stared, the young man added "If you hate your job so much, why don't you go do something else?" It was a great question, but the glaring logic seemed to be completely lost on the glaring gate agent. He became infuriated. Unfortunate for him, but also for his victims.
There are multiple lessons to be taken away from this experience, but here are the two that matter most:
- If you're the Company representative, you're Expected to know your operations. Whether Airport, Construction, Design, Landscape, Publishing, Autos, Sports, or any of a million possibilities, you are supposed to be the Expert. It's YOUR job to explain the aspects of your profession that matter to your customers, when they are relevant and in a way that is helpful and informative. It must never be condescending.
- From the Customer side, there is arguably more latitude in response. A customer may not always be right, but the customer is always the customer. In my experience, the vast majority of customers are open to receiving information -- even negative information -- if it is delivered in a respectful and informed manner. Good customers will listen, if what is said is worth hearing.
Travel has its challenges. If you can keep your perspective, however, it's much easier to Enjoy the Journey!