One single, simple comment and I went from thinking “Wow, it wasn’t that good” to “You know, he was pretty pleasant.”

By Steve Moran

I recently flew Delta First Class home from Chicago to Sacramento, my home airport — not bragging, it is important to the story (okay maybe bragging a little bit). While it is expensive, when flying long distance I almost always bite the bullet and purchase a first-class ticket because it makes all the difference between getting a bunch of work done or no work done.  

This means I can crank through 100 emails or write 3-5 articles flying across the country.  

None Are That Great

I fly a lot, probably averaging two trips a month. For a long time, I flew American Airlines, where the service was consistently bad and every time I needed to make a change they just nickel and dimed me to death. Finally, the last straw came when I purchased an upgraded seat on a flight out of Chicago and because of a change in equipment they put me in a no leg room seat, despite plenty of good seats available.  

Adding insult to injury, the gate folks didn’t care so I had to fight for and wait several weeks to get my money refunded. Finally, it seemed to me like, since every time I make a mistake they charged me $250 . . . it was only fair that they give me a $250 bonus when they made a mistake.  

They didn’t agree. So as a result over the last three years I have spent about $60,000 with Delta, all of which could have been American’s.

Oh . . . and I made a commitment to remind people how bad American is every chance I get.  

Just Not That Good

Delta is not perfect. However, once in a while they completely blow me away with how good they are. They are a ton better than American. On this particular flight though they were just not that good. It was not exactly that they were bad, but it was just little annoying stuff. They took forever to pick up trays from the meal. They left behind parts of the meal. They did not come around as often as usual to refresh drinks and check on passengers.

It was honestly not a big enough deal that I would have ever thought to complain, but a big enough deal to notice. What made it kind of weird was that the flight attendants were friendly.

Exiting the Airplane

After we landed, I gathered my stuff and headed off the plane, glad to be home for two days. As I hit the exit, my flight attendant was standing there and he looked me in the eyes and said, “It was a pleasure serving you.” Instantly I was transformed.

I went from thinking “Wow, it wasn’t that good” to “You know, he was pretty pleasant.”

The Point

It is often the little things more than the big things. It is the human connection that makes things work well. Too often we end up focusing on big stuff — missing the little stuff — and that is not so good for our residents, our team members, or our own souls.

I see a lot of organizations spending a lot of time and energy on programs. There is nothing wrong with that I suppose; yet, on the other hand, I find myself wondering if those organizations would get a lot further down the road if they just wandered around saying, “It is a pleasure serving you” and/or “It is a pleasure working with you.”