I was on a flight to a city I can’t remember, but what I do remember was the wonderful flight attendant, Bailee from American Airlines, who enthusiastically greeted me with a smile and said, “I like that hat!” I was wearing a baseball cap with the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Championship logo. Of course, I thanked her and I found my seat, just a few rows from the front of the plane. I point that out because I was able to observe the way she greeted every passenger.
As each passenger boarded the plane, Bailee welcomed them with the same enthusiasm and had something nice to say to everyone. Let me emphasize that she said something nice to every passenger. If it was a child with a cute sweatshirt, she commented on that. If it was a gentleman in a coat and tie, she commented on his tie. She commented on shoes, shirts, coats, and more. The point is that each and every passenger received a greeting and a compliment from Bailee.
I thought to myself, “That is an amazing person. Look at how she’s making almost every passenger smile.” When the timing was right, I reciprocated by thanking her for her friendly, yet professional attitude. She was the perfect frontliner for American Airlines – or for that matter, any type of business.
We laughed, and she said, “Not everyone smiles back.” I told her not to worry about those people. They were just having a bad day or were just not nice people. How could anyone not smile at Bailee when she exuded such a friendly and confident attitude?
Here’s the thing about compliments:
- They are free. It doesn’t cost a thing to say something nice to someone.
- While compliments are free, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a little effort to give one. To share compliments like Bailee, you have to be engaged and present for each and every customer.
- Compliments must be genuine. No faking it. For Bailee, every compliment was different. That made them even more authentic. She looked for something different to say to each passenger.
I asked Bailee where she learned to engage with her customers at that level. She said nobody taught her. She just knew it was the right thing to do. I knew better. Her parents had taught her. That’s where so much of customer service comes from – what our parents teach us. She had great role models in her parents. And she was now a great role model for others, not just her fellow employees, but the passengers who experienced her compliments.
Saying something nice only takes a moment, but the impact is much bigger than the few words shared. Take a lesson from Bailee and say something nice at the beginning of every conversation with a customer, colleague, friend, or family member.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken