I am convinced now that THE COMPETITIVE ISSUE OF OUR TIME IS CULTURE AS EXPRESSED IN VOICE. Firms that use voice and an adult culture of genuine care will destroy those that use scripts and efficiency.
What on Earth do I mean by that? let me illustrate by offering up a few things that happened to me while flying WestJet last week.
1. We land at Pearson. The FA comes on and says. "Please be careful and stay buckled up as there is always a chance that we may have to stop suddenly if we get caught in traffic" Wow - someone did not give us orders but gave us context for remaining buckled up. On Air Canada, everyone is fiddling with their stuff well before the ramp. Why - because of the tone of voice - On most airlines we are lectured to.
2. We have 2 unaccompanied minors on the return flight. Members of the crew played cards, chatted and generally fooled around with them the entire trip. They were really well looked after - not just the mundane look after - but genuinely cared for as people. Caring is not the same as service. There was no script. Children have great bullshit detectors and these men passed. By the way it was the male FA's who were front and centre with the kids.
3. On our approach into Moncton. we suddenly hit very bad turbulence - amongst the worst in 50 years of flying. We were suddenly being tossed all over the sky. The First Officer came on immediately - " Flight Attendants grab a seat! Now folks were at entering the jet-stream at 29,000 and we will come out the other side at 23,000. Just hang on a few minutes and it will be smooth again" . Well we all looked at each other and gasped. someone had told us what was really happening. With context and an adult - peer to peer tone we were all calm. At AC the seat belt sign would have come on. If we were lucky this Test pilot Voice would tell us to buckle up as were having some turbulence. At WestJet, the FA safety was dealt with immediately and we were all taken in to the confidence as adults by the flight deck.
What we all experienced was that the real service issue is not doing things - there are no meals on WestJet. It is how you are and how you related to each other and then with the customer. At WestJet we are all called "Guests" . Words mean something. A Guest is someone you legitimately care for. A passenger or a customer is someone you are paid to do things for.
So what is wrong with most organizations today? They use the voice of the grumpy teacher. The confuse doing things with love and with care. When confronted with a culture of care, they look and feel terrible.