It’s time for each of us to express our voice: Navigating our life (and work)

Dose #101 of Sanity

You bought your tickets.
Your credit card was charged.
You’ve packed your bags.
Your out of office setting is on. People will know you will not be responding to your email until you return.
You checked into your flight.
You confirmed your seats.
You imagined relaxing and exploring the ruins.
You woke up excited.
You went to the airport.
Checked in.
You were happy to board your plane.
You were in your seats.

You look up and an airline agent asks you to get off the plane.
You question them.
They ask again.
You are confused.
You get dragged off the plane not knowing what is going on.
Your mind is already on the beach so nothing makes sense.

Is this a made up story or real?

I wish I could say it is a bad dream or a nightmare.

But it happens. Check the news this week.

It even happened to me but I refused to get out of my seat and no one dragged me off the plane. To this day, I have no idea why. But it was a pivotal moment. I had received my one million card via FedEx the day before and had my worst airline experience the following day.

This is business. WE talk about the customer experience but few can translate it of their marketing slides. I offered the airlines, many times as I encountered crazy experiences, to help them improve. Who better than a 1.7 million mile flyer to guide them? I have spoken to hundreds of their employees and yet, there is no interest. Because feedback in today’s business environment is an illusion. We are so caught up in our frameworks and metrics that we don’t want to know these incidents take place unless they hit the headlines.

I flew yesterday. When you think about how much we pay for flying and what we get in return, it’s insane. If we have a bad meal at a restaurant, we talk to a manager and most of the time, they listen. If we buy an appliance, we have control over our experience. But the airlines have us.

They can drag us off a plane. The CEO can comment in public. But what changes when this is not in the news?

It is time for people to wake up to your voice. It matters, especially when our voices are united (sorry about the pun!). And we also express our voice as consumers, Where we shop matters, what we buy matters, who we invest in matters and we need to ask questions about how companies treat their employees, customers, communities and the planet. Shifts are happening outside of organizations with the increase in consumer voices expressing their choices.

It matters to remember your voice and to speak out. Not to put up with a customer experience that disrespects you.

I will never forget that feeling of sitting on the plane, after a harrowing experience, drinking a glass of water. The gate agent tapping my shoulder and telling me to get off the plane. Me refusing. At the same time, a couple was boarding with a baby and five year old being told, “sit anywhere, it’s open seating.” The dad saying, “You expect my five year old to sit by himself?” The gate agent saying, “I don’t care. I just want to get this damn plane out of here.”

Luckily, people moved seats and the customers helped this couple. It was definitely not the airline focused on customer service.

This trip changed my life but I’ll save the rest of the story for another time.

We need to express our voice in many ways — as customers, as employees, as community members and whatever other situation.

What do your actions say? Your voice, in these situations, is expressed not through what you say but what you do.

Where do you shop?
What do you consume?
What relationship do you expect with organizations selling you products and offering you their services?
Are there ones providing 21st century experiences yet?
What do your actions say about how well you are taking care of you, your community and the planet?
Isn’t it time for a new business experience suited for this century? What’s your role in making it happen?

We can sit back, watch, talk, read about events or we can take action.

It’s always a choice.

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