"Tell the customers to hold on, I need you to go to gate 28."
That's what I heard come across the walkie-talkie as I stood there in disbelief, across the gate counter, while attempting to board an earlier flight from San Francisco to Charlotte. And then she ran away!
Pauline, the supervisor for US Airways, just ran away. No words, no motions, no acknowledgement. No nothing. She just ran off to gate 28, leaving me to ponder: How was Pauline a supervisor?
Pauline was not a supervisor of superior employees.
Pauline was not a supervisor of superior positive attitude.
Pauline was not a supervisor of superior customer service.
Pauline was not super.
Pauline was only a visor.
I had just facilitated three full-day YES! Attitude trainings earlier that week, so my sense of YES! was at full force. From the moment I walked into SFO, I was greeted with US Airways employees (Nora, Jean, and Pauline) who were full of won't, can't, will not, don't wanna, don't care.
In the YES! course I teach how to start with what CAN be done, not what you can't.
Newsflash - customers don't want to hear about all the ways you can't help them, or your company policies (which, by the way, only tick us off more), or anything else that you are trained to say that ISN'T about being friendly and helpful.
Newsflash - customers want people who understand how to be human and treat them as they would want to be treated. Yes, everything we ever needed to learn about being a good person, a positive person, a helpful person, we gleaned from our mothers and kindergarten.
Newsflash - when a customer asks to speak to a supervisor, they are most likely not happy (when was the last time you asked for a supervisor to praise their employee?). If I'm seeking out a supervisor it's probably because the employee I was working with wasn't too super and I'm hoping you will be superior and super.
What does it take to be a superior supervisor?
1. Focus On The Super. The definition of super is to be very good or pleasant; excellent. I love that the word pleasant is in the definition. So infrequently people realize that friendly trumps nearly anything. Be nice to me and you win. Be helpful with me and you win. Be accommodating instead of combative and YOU WIN. To focus on the super, you have to be excellent in attitude, friendly, service, and communicating.
2. Avoid The Visor. The definition of a visor is a shield or protection of the face and eyes. Most supervisors focus solely on the visor part of their title. They are a shield or protector of their company, NOT the customer. They are the person who follows all policies that are not helpful. They are masterful at telling you can't and won't instead of being 'can do'. Personally, I've never like visors, they aren't a good fashion accessory. And I definitely don't think that a visor is a good leadership accessory.
3. Teach What's Right. Sounds so easy, yet many companies and leaders, struggle to convey and empower their employees to simply do what's right. Our day at SFO started out at a ticket counter where Nora refused to check me into an earlier flight because it was 10:29 and the flight was at 11:05. HOWEVER, their company policy is that it can't be less than thirty minutes to take off. Math may not have been my favorite subject, but I would say I had a good SIX minutes left before the cut-off. Nora didn't care. She didn't care about policy or the customer. Her supervisor struck out. Maybe Nora had not been taught to be nice, to care, or to understand that the company’s policy was thirty minutes, not thirty-six minutes before take off.
What would Nora and Pauline's mothers say about their actions?
What would your mother say about your actions and interactions with your customers? Would she say you are super? Would she say you are a visor?
I'm betting she would say you are super (that's what mothers do), but would your customers?
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