Rob Paterson posts on a recent flight and comments that caring is not the same as service. It’s a useful distinction.
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.
Service often gets confused with servility and carries lots of connotations about status. We find ourselves trapped in unsatisfying status games and false roles where it all seems to be about power rather than satisfaction.
A colleague did some great research among First Class passengers on an airline; they found the conventional Sir/Madam formality oppressive; instead they wanted something more human and friendly. When I’ve been upgraded on flights I often found the atmosphere a bit depressing, with many business people seeming to play a game of “I’ve done this so often I’m not impressed”. As a result, I feel sorry for the flight attendants. Not much human warmth there.
Rob’s story seems to be about a more genuine kind of relationship which is not governed by rules and regulations. I have worked with service businesses before and they sometimes have a default setting of making lots of rules about service whilst offering little inspiration to their people. A culture of rules can easily interfere with a basic human ability to create warmth and authenticity in relationships.