Be Outstanding, Make No Excuses

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Life teaches us — if we’re open to the lesson — that all we can really control is ourselves. This is exactly why Personal Accountability is so critical, and why people and organizations who demonstrate it stand out. 

Never forget, when it comes to serving our customers, the customer does not care to hear our reasons and excuses. Just ask Alan Farnsworth, formerly head of customer service worldwide for Bausch & Lomb. He’s been on the receiving end of a No Excuses approach and shares it in this story: 

Connecting through the Paris airport, I was on a bus full of travelers heading out for a remote boarding on a distant tarmac. When we reached our plane, we weren’t allowed to get out. Instead, an Air France person came onto the bus to let us know the airplane cabin wasn’t ready. I wasn’t concerned about the delay since I was not in a hurry, but I could see other passengers getting increasingly annoyed as the minutes passed. 

Once we were finally on the plane and settled in, forty minutes behind schedule, the captain came over the speaker. Honestly, I expected the standard, canned, insincere airline spin such as, “Sorry for the delay, but it’s due to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft” or some other routine excuse. Instead, here’s what the captain said: “I’d like to personally apologize for this delay. It was due to our failure to get the cabin ready on time, and as captain, I am responsible for that. I didn’t get the job done. This is inexcusable. Our practices will change to ensure this never happens again, at least not with any team for which I am responsible. This is not typical of Air France, and I hope you won’t hold this against us, because we can do better—and you deserve better. Now, please sit back and enjoy the flight. We may be late, but we’ll make it as pleasant as possible for you.” 

I have never heard such honesty like this in circumstances like these. You should have seen the passengers’ response. It was fascinating to observe. Nodding heads, smiles, and faces that clearly said, OK, that’s pretty nice. I feel better now. People’s agitation and irritation seemed to be replaced by acceptance and relaxation. While observing all of this, it occurred to me that candor and accountability like this are exactly how every organization ought to deal with their customers. After experiencing it—after feeling it—I know it works! 

Question: How complex is it for an airline to get a plane off the ground on time? 

Answer: Extremely. 

And more often than not, the crew is as frustrated as the passengers. But if this Air France pilot had shared “The Five Reasons You Can’t Blame Us” with his paying customers, what would that have accomplished? Nothing positive. So he took the High Road of Personal Accountability and simply said, “No excuses.” 

Now that’s outstanding! 

Is my organization one of No Excuses?

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*** The message above is excerpted from Outstanding! 47 Ways To Make Your Organization Exceptional

 

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