Walking through the Atlanta airport last week, I was looking for a frozen yogurt cone before my flight home. Most of the time in airports, I am on automatic control, not noticing much other than getting through security, finding my terminal and getting to the correct gate. This time as I stopped at a yogurt stand and gave my order, the young man behind the counter serving started a conversation. “Are you on business or a fun trip?” he asked. I respond “business” and he said “what do you do?” I tell him and he said, “well, that sounds cool, I bet you love your job!” “I love my job too” he said. We go back and forth like this till my cone was ready. Yes, it was just small conversation, but it took away from the routine of the travel and the feeling of buying the cone as just another transaction. I realized that I had looked at him and he had looked at me. How many times have you really looked up and noticed the person who is serving you in the grocery store, bank line, post office, department store, restaurant, fast-food line, utility bill paying line? We all go through life so fast every day, that when a person breaks through the monotony of the script and the job task, it makes an impression.
It doesn’t take a lot to deliver personal customer service. At Walt Disney World, they make it easier to do this by putting the name of the cast member’s hometown on their name tag. Both guests and cast members can more easily strike up a conversation by making some connection to the hometown.
People will remember how courteous and friendly you were more than how efficient the line moved. Teach employees the importance of making people feel like individuals. It doesn’t take a lot, but a just a few seconds of paying attention and making someone feel that they are not just “next in line.”