What an Airport taught me about Forethought

I was at the airport last night bouncing around between cargo and customs, battling rush hour traffic the entire time. We managed to get everything done, but not without minor freak outs on my part.

I could kvetch about how terrible airports are and about how by the book customs agents are, but that isn’t really the point.

At some point in my freak out, Jason looked at me and told me that I didn’t need to be so huffy with the employee. He was right. But in that moment, when I frustrated and annoyed at the airport layout and pissed off that the employee answered my question about where specifically we were on the map he had just handed me with a verbal “you’re here” (duh – but where is ‘here’ on the map?)… In that moment, I didn’t care.

As a customer, I bear some responsibility for how any particular interaction occurs. I get that things go smoother if I’m nice. If I’m always nice though, what incentive does the other party have to step up their game, to fix problems, or to make things better? Its a two way street and if you happen to work in a job where there is a mis-match in information then being nice/more upfront may just be something that you should just do if you want to minimize frustration.

Jason also reminded me that a lot of why I was frustrated wasn’t the individual employees fault. Again, he was totally right.

It made me think about companies and decision making. That customer experience and interactions with employees start well in advance of a particular occurrence. In that moment, it wasn’t just me or the employee that were responsible for the interaction. The corporation needs to take responsibility as well. If your goal as a company is to improve engagement or customer satisfaction or reduce employee turnover, then you need to think about the bigger architecture.

Have you built your systems and processes and environment so that customers are receptive? Have you labelled doors well? Does your IVR direct calls quickly and clearly? Did the “you’re here” and the “you need to go there” parts well on the map so that they’re clear even when photocopied?

So much more can be accomplished if we take the time to think ahead. Forethought is today’s word of the day. How could you make your next big work project easier if you focus more on forethought and less on just getting it done?

Other lesson learned? I get way more stressed out and prone to anxiety when I haven’t eaten in the last few hours. We should probably just keep a bag of trail mix in the car for just such emergencies.

Accidentally breaking into an airport building after hours while there were cop cars outside didn’t do much to calm me down. Yup.

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10.22.2010    3 Comments    customer experience, life