Not every one of us will have the opportunity to be hired as CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. Each of us, though, does hold the title of CEO of our own life. We all, to some degree, face many of the challenges that the “big-time” executives face every day and are faced with decisions. These decisions do one of three things. They either move the company forward, move it backward, or are deemed inconsequential.
In August, my family and I took a little vacation to Bermuda. Traffic was insane on the way to JFK airport, and the two-hour ride took us four. Still, though, we made it to check-in a full hour before flight time (boarding passes already printed and in hand). Once navigating the slow-moving line, however, we were informed that while we were in plenty of time to make our flight – they would no longer check our baggage! Being a true “Appreciator” and a solutions guy, I calmly and politely went about solving the problem. And for the next 30 minutes I was passed off to one uncaring and unempathetic employee after another in one of the absolute worst cases of customer service I have ever experienced.
Finally, a bystander suggested that we purchase additional carry-on bags at the nearby kiosk and transfer our belongings. I asked the attendant if that was possible and she nodded without expression. So I purchased three overpriced carry-on bags, we unpacked and repacked in the middle of a bustling airport floor, and had to abandon my wife’s large (and expensive) empty suitcase at the kiosk. We then squeezed through screening, ran to the terminal, and made our flight with nine carry-on bags!
Upon returning home, I reached out to the new CEO of American Airlines, Douglas Parker, explaining my experience. Again, in my charming Tommy-style manor, I mentioned that I make a career out of telling customer-service stories (good and bad) and even included a signed copy of Appreciation Marketing. I expected nothing (as is usually my MO), but was anxious to see how my new “story” would end. If I were the CEO, I’m quite certain that I’d apologize (at bare minimum) and say thank you for the book (which is about saying thank you). At best, I’d perhaps offer me and my family a new flight and ask for a chance to “re” earn our business. Especially in lieu of the $500 luggage fiasco.
Drum roll please . . .
I got what I expected (see above paragraph).
Now I’m an intelligent and level-headed guy. But do you think I will EVER book a flight on American Airlines again? Do you think I’ll tell this story at parties? Do you think I’ll tell this story on stages? Do you believe that the CEO of American Airlines’ decision to do nothing moves his company forward, moves his company backward, or is inconsequential? What choice would YOU make? And this guy makes millions!
Our hope is that you – as an Appreciation Marketing specialist – take your CEO position more seriously.
It’s never too much trouble to do the right thing, but it can be very damaging not to.