At the Ottawa Airport this morning, someone’s boarding pass drifted past my feet as I walked to my gate. I picked it up and went over to the agents for the appropriate flight.
“Good Morning, ladies,” I said to them both (it was 7 am), holding up the boarding pass. “I … .”
But I didn’t get to finish my second sentence. One of the agents, without looking up from her computer screen and making eye contact, cut me off. In that clipped, professional tone airline staff have perfected, she proceeded to tell me that boarding had not been announced. In other words “Go away and leave us alone. Can’t you see we’re busy here!”
She made an assumption about the reason for my approaching the desk.
Her response had an immediate negative impact on me, especially since I had walked out of my way to deliver the lost boarding pass. Without hesitation, I raised my voice, interrupted her and said with a somewhat irritated tone, “I’ve found someone’s boarding pass.”
Yes – the agent was somewhat embarrassed. No – she did not apologize … but she did provide me with this week’s post.
In this context, the word assumption is defined as “taking for granted” (counter-productive to customer service) or “presumption, arrogance” (the antithesis of building relationships).
Yet we all make assumptions about dozens of things each day. Some of them are costing us the goodwill and loyalty of existing customers. And some of them are limiting our ability to cultivate/attract new customers.
What’s interesting for me is earlier in the week my husband had commented on my tendency to make assumptions. He said it as a kind and supportive piece of advice and I try to take his advice seriously. He’s often right. So I’d been contemplating this notion of assumption and now I want to investigate further.
How can we identify our own assumptions? Since they are something we take for granted, how can we recognize them? Should we perhaps ask our trusted colleagues, friends, family for their input? I’d love to hear what you think.