Words matter.

It was late. The flight was delayed. Everyone waiting was tired and ready to leave. The gate attendant was being ambushed with questions. Questions about missed connections, and when we might expect the flight to finally take off.

He handled it like a pro. He never raised his voice. He never lost his temper. He answered everyone’s questions to the best of his ability. He was the calm in the midst of a brewing storm of tired and disgruntled travelers.

His name is Louis, and he is the best example of a Customer Service Leader that I have seen in any airport. Louis understands that words matter.

“Good evening ladies and gentleman,” Lois said calmly into the loud speaker. “Thank you for your patience, as we wait for our aircraft to land. As soon as the passengers on the plane have exited, we will begin the boarding process. As I call your section, please come to the front with your boarding passes ready so that we can expedite the boarding process.”

He continued, “We will do everything possible to get this flight on its way in a timely manner, and again we apologize for the delay and any inconvenience this may have caused.” Louis paused a moment, and then he said something that really caught my attention. “Just one request as you approach the gate with your boarding pass ready. Please make sure that you are smiling,” and then he smiled.

Words matter.

With a few simple words, everyone at the terminal gate had a change of attitude. There was laughter, and all of a sudden no one was angry or complaining about lost time and excessive waiting.

I couldn’t help myself. I ran up to the counter with a large smile on my face, and my phone in my hand. Louis looked at me. “Nice smile,” he said. If possible, my grin got bigger. I asked to take his picture. He looked puzzled. I explained that as a speaker who emphasizes the importance of putting people first, making everyone feel welcome, and demonstrating a hospitality heart; he had perfectly demonstrated this with one request.

Words matter, and Louis had proven it.

Everyone was smiling as they handed him their boarding passes. We continued to smile as we found our seats. Louis did that. His words inspired us.

Words matter.

Choose your words carefully. Inspire those around you.

Be a Customer Service Leader.