Harnessing Moments that Matter

March 23, 2016

Today I’m not writing about one brand missing an opportunity to connect with a captive audience. This is about many brands missing out on these valuable moments, and I’m not sure why.

For many years, I’ve been a Southwest Airlines evangelist, always happy with the extraordinary customer service and impressed with their business model. Their simple approach to service delivery is not complicated: focus on the interactions that matter the most, like the flight attendant greeting passengers when they board and creating a dialogue with them about their destination. The company’s approach to service is likely why it was just named to Fortune’s list of most admired companies in the world.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed a trend. A disconnect. Something I even see at home as the father of two girls who are glued to their smartphones.

As I was traveling to New York recently for an awards banquet, I made my way to the rear of the jet to use the lavatory. It was occupied, so I stood waiting about five feet from the flight attendant (I’ll call her T) who was so engrossed in her mobile phone that she didn’t even look up to notice anyone there. Whether she was using social media or checking her schedule, I don’t know. What I do know is that she missed the opportunity to engage with me at a time when she had my full attention.

In my mind, it’s one of those moments that matter—an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with your customers. Instead of being glued to her phone, T could have connected with me while asking about my trip to New York or offering up some suggestions on a new restaurant to try.

But she didn’t, and thereby missed an opportunity to reinforce the pure genius of Southwest Airlines I have come to expect over the years.

Southwest Airlines is a terrific airline, and it is not alone in this subtle shift away from leveraging moments that matter.

As our digital world seems to command our full attention every waking hour of the day, I’m more aware of the moments that happen off of my phone—the spirited greeting from the bistro owner when I come in for lunch or the easy conversation with the bellman when I arrive at the hotel.

All of the feeds and tickers and headlines and notifications you get on your phone? They can wait.

The perfect moment to have a meaningful conversation with your customer? It’s fleeting, and it will be over quickly if you don’t grab hold of it and make it your moment, your opportunity to be exceptional and memorable.