I was recently traveling on a pretty typical flight but had an atypical experience. As we settled into our seats and turned off our cell phones, the captain greeted us. Only it wasn’t over the loud speaker, it was in person.
“Welcome to American, I’m Captain Chris. Anyone been to Colorado before? Anyone been on one of my flights before? Anyone ski? I just took up skiing a few weeks ago and believe me, you will appreciate falling into all the fresh fallen snow.” And while this exchange only lasted a few minutes, he engaged all the passengers while providing some insight into himself, his personality and interests. In just a few short minutes, we got to know Captain Chris much better.
But he didn’t stop there. He proceeded to personally introduce himself to each person on the flight – shook their hand, asked their name, and even razzed some of those wearing particular football jerseys. It was all very natural to him, but so unnatural for all of us.
But think about it. Shouldn’t we know a bit more about the person who is about to propel us into the air at 500 miles per hour? Should we at least get to see a display of confidence? Isn’t it nice to know something personal about them? Instead of being cut off from the passengers without even a hello or thank you, Captain Chris showed that he cared about us. And I liked it!
His engagement left a very positive impression on all of the passengers that day. Although the Wi-Fi didn’t work, the flight was bumpy, and the person in front of me got a little too comfortable in their seat – it was all okay. Captain Chris delivered us there safely and on time, just like he said (in person!) he would.
It took only ten minutes to welcome the passengers, but the impact will be felt much longer. I can’t help to think he might have inspired a child to be a pilot that day or helped calm a nervous traveler. For me, he demonstrated the importance of a simple gesture, and when that is not expected it translates to superior service.
What does unexpected service mean in your industry? Maybe it’s sending a hand-written note to a client you just met, with reference to a detail that was discussed during the conversation? It takes active listening to show full engagement. And now in the days where heads are down in cell phones, really engaging with someone in person has become unexpected. And the goal of delivering superior service is to do the unexpected; because anyone can do the expected. You are remembered and appreciated for the unexpected. Inspire the unexpected in someone today!