Only 17 people boarded the plane and all but one of us sat in first class. 16 empty seats with pillows, blankets and real hot coffee and maybe a sticky bun.
I was looking for rooting for Delta to do something different that wouldn’t have cost them very much, but would have made 16 great impression and no doubt hundreds and hundreds of great word of mouth impressions, Facebook posts, twitter tweets and who knows what else.
But when I asked the head flight attendant if we all couldn’t sit in first class, she gave me a look as if I had burped her baby backwards. “Oh no, we couldn’t possibly do that”, she exclaimed. “And why not, I said, “it would be a great good will gesture and wouldn’t cost anything.” She laughed at me and said, “Oh no, I would be fired for that.” “Really”, I said, “what a shame,” as I walked away shaking my head in despair.
Isn’t it crazy in a day and age where we are all fighting for customers and doing everything possible to get and retain customers that a simple act of doing something unexpected and delightful, that would have exceeded expectations, was nipped in the bud because this person just couldn’t imagine coloring outside of the lines.
No doubt our employees are often as guilty as the Delta flight attendant described previously. Maybe we are too. Maybe we just have too many rules; too many policy manuals; and too many penalties too soon for doing something different. Maybe we are too jaded as well. (I had one proprietor tell me what a great business this is, if it wasn’t for the customers.) Yikes!!
So loosen the reins a bit, give your employees the opportunity to do something great. Lead them, teach them and set the example yourself. Who knows, you may just be talked about all over the Internet as being a business that ACTUALLY exceeded your customers expectations.
And wouldn’t that be cool?