Who gives a flying crap?
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
Last week I needed to change a flight with a major airline to attend the memorial for my grandmother. As I shared this over the phone with the airline agent, he promptly informed me that the change would cost me $200 plus the difference of fare. No, “I’m sorry for your loss.” No, “let me see what I can do.” He recited the policy perfectly, eloquently, and without a drop of empathy.
Which airline, you ask? It doesn’t matter. I’m 100% certain every major airline has blown it at some point in a similar situation. Which got me thinking. Just when did we get to a place where we no longer give a damn?
I decided that I would school Mr. Policy on the errs of his ways and calmly explained my disappointment in his lack of empathy for bereaving customers. He wasn’t interested in hearing it so I escalated my frustration to his supervisor.
After repeating my story to the supervisor, it became clear that she had even less empathy for bereaved customers. She kept interrupting me as I tried to explain my shock and disappointment for how I was being treated. In a condescending voice, she put her lack of empathy on full display by explaining the errors of my ways. It got so bad I finally said to Ms. Interrupter, “who is the customer? Me or you?”
And there you have it. In today’s world of Yelp, five-star Uber ratings, and recorded calls for training purposes, how is it we’re still struggling with empathy in 2019?
Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from the other person’s point of view rather than from one’s own. Every time I see a fellow motorist fail to move over for an ambulance, I express my hope they will never need to know the difference of seconds for a loved one in distress. When I read rude, judgmental comments that internet trolls leave while minding other people’s business, I pray they never have a child who has experienced the toll of bullying. When I experience indifference, attitude, and complete disregard for feelings from those in the service industry, I wonder why in Sam Hill they are still employed.
Engaging empathy has a limitless upside and zero downside in the business world. True empathy for the end user leads to stronger deliverables that strengthen an organization’s viability. Empathetic customer service agents create long-term, loyal consumers who are champions for that company in competitive markets. It’s not rocket science.
Imagine if I was greeted with Mr. Empathy instead of Mr. Policy. First of all, I would have never met Ms. Interrupter. Most importantly, I would be flying that airline right now instead of their competitor.
While I thank them for my blog inspiration, I would rather be in a world where people actually gave a flying crap. Wouldn’t you?