business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Content Guy’s Note: Below is a commentary on the same subject as the video piece, but it isn’t word-for-word the same. You can look at both, or is up to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

We’ve had a travel theme running through a number of columns this week, so for the moment I’m going to stick with it, using a specific travel experience to make a broader retail point.

Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to Oklahoma City for a speech, and my return was delayed by severe weather that threw all the local airports into a tizzy. Finally, after a bunch of cancelled flights, it seemed to make the most sense for me to drive three hours to Dallas a catch a flight from there. Except for the downpour, the drive was just fine, though I have to admit that I got a little nervous when one of those storm-chaser trucks sped past me, going in the same direction. Uh-oh, I thought ... and realized that if I saw a tornado, I had no idea what to do. But I made it to Dallas without any real problems.

Now, I have no real complaints to make about either United or Continental, the airlines that juggled my itinerary back and forth. The people there seemed to be doing their level best to get me where I needed to go, and they were generally pleasant and cooperative.

Once in Dallas, I spent about four hours waiting for my plane to take off. Then, another big storm hit, and things got hairy, and we were delayed another four hours. Now, I knew that I was destined to sit in a middle seat in the back of the plane, but that was okay - I just wanted to go home.

At about 10 at night, they finally loaded us onto the plane, and I got lucky - I got bumped up to first class. But my luck didn’t hold for long - the plane taxied around the tarmac for about 20-25 minutes, and then the pilot announced that FAA rules prevented the crew from flying any more that day, and they took us back to the terminal, where we all had to find hotels, get our bags and get rebooked for the next day. I thought a riot was going to break out at the back of the plane, but I stayed calm - I fly a lot, and I’m generally pretty lucky about these things, and so I figure every once in a while things are going to go south. I had stuff to read and work to do. C’est la vie.

Early the next morning, we were all back at the airport, getting on the same plane, and the same crew and flight attendants were waiting for us. This is where the pilot crossed the line. As people re-boarded the plane, he let us all know that this had been a major inconvenience to him, that he was supposed to be starting his vacation that day.

Totally the wrong thing to say.

What he should have said was, I’m really sorry about yesterday, things were totally out of my control, but as soon as we get this plane in the air I’m going to get it to New York as fast as I possibly can.

But no. He was sorry he’d been inconvenienced.

When you think about it, this happens a lot. I cannot tell you how many times I go up to a cashier - in any number of venues - and say, “How are you?” And they then let me know what a long day they’ve had, how glad they will be to leave work, and generally how miserable their jobs are.

Happens all the time.

I’ve never done it, but what I want to say back is, cut the crap. You have a job, you’re getting paid, you should take pride in what you do, and you should at the very least not be complaining to me. Whine to your spouse, your family, your co-workers, even your boss. But not me. And while you’re at it, while I’m at your register, I’d appreciate it if you talked to me, not your co workers. Show a little respect. Show a little dignity.

This is a message that all retailers ought to hammer home to their employees. Treat your customers like your job depends on it.

Because in the end, it does.

That’s what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I’d like to hear what is on your mind.
KC's View: