Cloud Gate is a wonderful creation in Chicago, sometimes nicknamed The Bean because of its shape. Its brightly polished reflective surface brings the huge and enormous skyline into focus sufficiently to get it into your camera lens. Revisiting Chicago a year on was once again filled with many wonders, marvellous sights, sounds and smells. Much plane travel gives plenty of time for reflection, and I recalled the article I wrote last year on how CARE makes a difference, and resolved to study the service I encountered along the way, seeking a focus that brings the enormous influence of this field into something which can be captured in a blog.
Coming across from NZ, I flew American Airlines on their new Dreamliner. My first observation was that the team on board appeared to be unsmiling and robotic. I then observed the person next to me ask for an orange juice using the words, “I’ll have an orange juice.” The tone of my fellow passenger was disinterested, and as though speaking to a machine. I thanked the woman serving for my drinks and snack. A while later, dinner came: I asked for the chicken and said thank you. The air hostess suddenly smiled and said “You must be Kiwi. You are so nice and polite.”
There is much truth in the old saying, “Give and it will be given to you.”
In our busy world of instant gratification, fast internet, multiple distractions and crowded lifestyle, it takes real effort to stop, look at the person you are encountering, and engage them. I paraphrased my own version of Gandhi’s quote above: People reflect the treatment they receive and expect.
Looking someone in the eye when you speak to them; greeting them; saying “please & thank you” were a basic 101 expectation for most of us growing up, and I believe in this common - or uncommon - courtesy, is the key to outstanding service.
When people speak to service people or behind-the-counter staff as if they are no more than human service machines, the flip side to this is that the people doing the serving do not expect any different, and respond and react accordingly. If you usually get treated like a machine, probably best not to disappoint and show you are human. I have observed in multiple countries that people serving in such situations develop a shield-like armour in their customer interactions.
There’s a common thread that you reflect what you’re constantly fed. The only person you can directly change, in the vast web of human reactions, is yourself. How do you treat people? How do you expect to be treated? At work, how do you treat your team? How do they treat each other? A business’s internal relationships and culture will be directly reflected forward in their customer experience.
I am grateful to live and work in a team and community where people are seen and treated as the individuals they are. I pray it never stops. I’ve witnessed the change in atmosphere and culture that consistent and genuine care for people makes. Each of us can make a difference wherever we are – by choosing to see and engage with real people as they go about their day, leaving their world a little better because they encountered you. It is the best thing. It is the right thing to do.
Do the right thing!