Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First, learn to say you're sorry

So now Air Canada thinks that smiling at customers will help:
"it's up to each and every one of us to work together to be sure that we're also out in front in the soft attributes such as a ready smile, eagerness to help customers and simply perform jobs well."
Well, yes, that would be nice.
But first, Air Canada has to learn how to apologize to its customers.
Look, its like this. In Canada, things will always go wrong for Air Canada travelers at our airports. An international company like Air Canada is affected whenever American airports screw up, and this is going to happen regularly. Also, we're heading into storm season, when airports in Eastern Canada regularly have to close due to winter weather. Also, Toronto-Pearson is an airport which is so big it is beyond a human scale, yet this is a central airport for Air Canada's operations. Finally, Air Canada seems to have a "just in time" business model where there is no capacity for back up planes or crews or gate staff. The result? Small problems will inevitably become big problems. Flights will leave without the customers who paid to get on them. Or the customers will be there but the flights won't be. Or the customers and the flights will connect but the luggage will go astray.
So, Air Canada, you're going to have to spend a portion of each work week, if not each day, apologizing to people.
Please, learn how to do this right -- I don't want abject misery ("Oh, forgive us!"), nor to I want any non-apology apologies ("I'm sorry if you're upset") or the insult apology ("I'm sorry but would you want to fly in a plane that might crash?").
Rather, I want just a simple, sincere "I'm sorry this happened. Here's what we are going to do about it..."

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