Last night I observed a missed opportunity on the transit system: A tired traveler angrily complained that the train was late leaving the airport, and they had been waiting 30+ minutes (the station reader board showed 10:10 as scheduled, and he launched his complaint around 10:25). The operator explained that bridge lifts were causing delays, and that HIS train, THIS train was on time.
The traveler asked if they could have at least announced the delay, etc. The Operator got very defensive, saying that it wasn’t OUR fault, the delays are out of our control, and to “Be thankful for what you have. This isn’t paradise.” A few minutes later, he got on the PA and confirmed to all of us that the Website noted expected delays due to the bridge lift, that it IS on the website.” I overheard other passengers grumbling about his defensiveness and need to prove that he’s right. The complaining passenger fumed about the calls and letters he would be sending in to the corporate office.
The opportunity to diffuse and impress was missed and replaced with defensiveness and reactive anger that caused a good portion of the waiting passengers to be more disgruntled, when they could have been reassured and won over instead.
EMPOWERED has a Customer Engagement Program that helps employees to diffuse tension with customers, reasonable or unreasonable: In this case, the operator might have done well to acknowledge the traveler’s frustration, and use asset-based speech with this (what we CAN do).
[Name the Situation] “The train was delayed due to bridge lifts in town.
[Acknowledge the Emotion] I understand the frustration of thinking the train was leaving at 10:10, and having to deal with the unexpected delay. It was on the website, but unfortunately didn’t show up on the reader board.
[Forward Thinking- Solution] We are doing all we can, and we’ll get this train rolling out at 10:35, just a few minutes.
[Acknowledge and Appreciate] Thanks for the PA suggestion, and we appreciate your understanding and patience.”
Our program is set up for Managers and/or Public-Facing Employees. If you would like more information about a program tailored for your team, Contact Us or call 503-764-5013.