You had me at hello


Sitting here in the front row of my EasyJet flight to Edinburgh I have now heard good morning 73 times, I’m bored of it, the flight attendant, although lovely,  is working hard not to sound bored of it and he has another 73 people to go. At least some of those are entering from the back. To be fair Ian did shake it up a bit and varied his greeting as much as possible.

Whether it be 3 or 300 the team are expected to greet every person, rightly so! But how can they stop themselves from sounding robotic, and for those further down the queue, hearing the same words on repeat, like a mini version of Groundhog Day.

There are many different greetings you could use,  good morning / afternoon / evening are the obvious choices and welcome aboard sounds great so you could alternate that with the others.

Hi there is less formal but works with the ‘younger generation’. But don’t be tempted to do a high five, we have all seen how this can end in an uncomfortable hand left hanging situation, a la Corbyn.

Hello how are you today? Sounds great with a Scottish accent but what do you do when passengers reply…well actually, I’m feeling pretty rough!  “Oh dear, sorry to hear that” you say, as 20 passengers line up behind the chatty individual thinking just get on the plane and sit down, I need to get my bag in the bin above my head not 5 rows away making it impossible to get off quickly.

Ian, today’s steward informs me that you have to approach the ‘how are you?’ with confidence, being ready to smile broadly when they say brilliant and turn it around when they don’t with a quick “well I hope the rest of your day gets better”. Beware of the passenger that wants to get their whole unfortunate airport experience off their chest, Ian’s answer…. “thank you for your honesty I will pass the information on, let’s get you to your seat”.

You could sprinkle a few foreign greetings in to shake it up a bit,  “Bonjour”,  however people may wonder if they have got on the wrong flight but you may get a smile.

“Happy Friday/ Monday/ Wednesday”, although positive could be difficult if they are not having a happy Day and smacks of the American “have a nice day now” guaranteed to have the average Brit screaming internally  “I am not American, I know you don’t mean this!”

We could take a lesson from Friends and do a Joey, “How are you doing?” With a glint in your eye. However this may cause an uncomfortable oh no they fancy me situation and consider to you be a sleezy character and vow never to return.

How about “welcome back”, guests and customers like to be remembered, this is often a winner, however there is the odd chance it is their first time and they will tell you. “Really”, you reply, “well you have a doppelganger honestly you could be twins”.

On a recent BA flight also to Edinburgh, I was greeted with “great shoes!” which was wholly appropriate given they were sparkly and fabulous! The greeting put a smile on my face all day. The flight attendant had obviously watched an American President.

You could try a “grande Skinny cappuccino isn’t it?” that definitely works in my local Starbucks and makes me feel important, however, it would sound strange as you step onto an aircraft.

That old favourite “lovely/awful weather isn’t it”, could vary it a bit, but can be bland, however in true British fashion would not offend anyone.

You could try commenting on the match, election or news of the moment.  Frankly, most of us are sick of politics and instead of watching the match decided to avoid TV altogether and sit in the garden with a glass of rose or a cold beer. Lately, the news is so depressing no one wants to be reminded of it, and we would rather leave an early morning discussion about the topic of the day to Piers Morgan and his latest victim.

You could rest your voice give a huge smile and nod, particularly good for foreign visitors who would not understand you anyway.

What about a handshake, you would eventually get hand/arm strain, making it impossible to deliver the drinks and duty frees, and if you were tempted to pull them towards you in a Trump-like fashion (why does he do that?) it could result in them wanting to walk to Edinburgh rather than get on another Easyjet flight.

A wave could look like you are auditioning for a game show where the contestants awkwardly wave to the camera at the beginning. (Have you seen anyone look good doing that?)

Although most of us love a hug, it would be completely inappropriate whilst boarding a flight. What would we do with our, bags, cases and boarding passes?  So let’s keep at arm’s length just to be sure.

So where does that leave us, here are a few top tips

1. Be warm and welcoming, your body language says as much as your words. Smiling eyes will convey genuine warmth.

2. Look fabulous, including your shoes so that you can give a fantastic first impression and represent the company with style.

3. A smile has international appeal and a genuine smile even more so, think about something you love or are looking forward to just before passengers begin to board to get into the right frame of mind.

4. Vary your greeting to avoid becoming monotone and too robotic.

5. Alternate greetings with your colleagues or have a competition as to who can get the most positive reply, it will set you up for a great day.

So what is the verdict, how about a simple hello, after all, it worked for Jerry Maguire!

Goodbye….farewell,  I think I’ll save that for another blog.
Ian thank you for your help.

Mjinspire ltd offers a range of team development sessions including customer experience training. Why not email me at…… yes you guessed it hello@mjinspire.com

 

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