We’ve all experienced a situation like this:
The plane lands early but the gate is occupied and you actually deplane late.
The flight pilot makes an announcement: “Thank you for your patience.”
It takes you three times longer than it should to cash a check because the bank teller line is short-staffed.
When you finally reach a teller, he says, “Thank you for your patience.”
Stop. The truth is I’m annoyed and anything but patient. If you are robbed at gunpoint, it is silly for the thief to thank you for your wallet. You didn’t have a choice. Thanking someone who has been made to wait feels like you are forcing patience on them when they don’t have it.
Nobody should pay to have their life inconvenienced, but it happens all the time. And many are better at a Zen-like response than others. I’m really bad at it.
I realize the service provider is acknowledging the inconvenience, but they are going about it in the wrong way.
The better response? “I apologize we made you late.”
Or “I apologize for the unreasonable wait.”
Or “I apologize that we couldn’t have served you more quickly.”
Stop playing word games and keep the responsibility where it belongs. Work diligently to keep customers from waiting, but if you fail (as all service providers do at some point), acknowledge your responsibility and apologize for the inconvenience.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.
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