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Who agrees we shouldn’t put youngsters in badly designed jobs?

Posted on: September 7, 2009

In Edinburgh last week I got the EasyJet treatment.

According to the loyal regulars, our experience on Wednesday last week was a RyanAir story and not a common experience on EasyJet.  That is good to hear.  So if you are not EasyJet checking these details (!), just note where I am going with this and skip over to the next heading!

I think, we shouldn’t put young people in the front line without proper training and support.   It will cripple their soul as surely as a road side bomb blows up young men in inadequately amoured vehicles.  We shouldn’t do this, morally.

And we shouldn’t do this because we are capable of managing much better.

Who agrees?

The back story

At 6pm, EasyJet groundstaff at Edinburgh Airport knew their 8pm flight to Luton would be delayed. They were telling passengers who were checking in at the airport.

They didn’t change the Boards though till 7.30pm, after the passengers were due at the gate at 7.25pm.

EasyJet were loading a Belfast flight shortly before and it would have been quite easy for someone to shout out that the flight was delayed, or put up a paper sign, and most of all to provide some information and hand out vouchers.

Very simply, passengers who had checked in online were not informed and nor was there a reasonable attempt to inform us.

We were delayed twice more. Vouchers for a princely 3 pounds were handed-out to those who asked at 10pm (with which you could buy a stale sandwich or a glass of wine – one or the other).

We eventually took off at 11pm, three hours late on a 75 minute flight, and suffered one more delay in Luton when the steps broke.

The steps broke? By this time, the passengers had begun to giggle.  It did seem as if EasyJet was in business well beyond its pay grade.

I departed north from the airport after midnight leaving stranded tourists who hadn’t eaten and who had no idea how to get to London.

The saving grace was a remarkably cheerful Purser who solved the problems of people stubborn enough to ask for assistance.  And many regulars were loyal to the airline despite the shoddy service – that’s good but as a first time EasyJet flyer I remain skeptical as did my foreign companion who has departed for another continent convinced of our total imcompetence.

But why I ask, were the ground staff so ill equipped to communicate the basics to the passengers?

Delays happen.  This is not news in the airline industry.  What are EasyJet’s procedures for rescheduling aircraft and crews?  What are their procedures for informing passengers already in the airport and on their way to the airport?  What are their procedures for informing people who they persuaded to check in online?  Why do they ask us for our mobile numbers if they don’t intend to use them?

And most of all, why don’t they train their staff in some basic active listening?

A one hour class in active listening skills will turn the the sulky staff at the airport into the cheerful Purser.

A customer service representative who protests her own innocence in the unfolding events doesn’t have a personality problem. She has a management problem.

No one has ever explained to her that we don’t care who is to blame within EasyJet.

We want to know three things.

1. When will we get home and how firm is the ETA?

2. How can we recorganize our ground arrangements (where are the train tables)?

3. How can we pass the intervening time and where can get refreshments?

Their backstory of a medical emergency in Nice was useful but the real story was that a medical emergency in France has knocked out the plane and crew schedules – not convincing is it?

I wouldn’t tell that story.   I swould simply say – we’ve screwed up.   A medical emergency has tripped our schedules.  We are only going to get you to London by midnight.  Now this is what we are going to do.  Let’s sort the passengers out.  Who will be connecting on – and get a passenger with an internet connection to look up the times?  Who needs a voucher?  This is where you find us if you need us.  Etc.

Keep it concrete and no excuses.

If a passenger is distressed, all they have to do is acknowledge the distress.  That is what the Purser did so well.  Even when the stairs broke inconveniencing passengers for the 4th time that evening, all he did was announce that he needed to apologize one more time.  He told us factually what the problem was and when we might receive a solution. He didn’t need to be defensive.  He wasn’t defensive.  Active listening is so easy when someone has shown you how.  And so effective too.

We shouldn’t put young people in the front line without proper training.  It will cripple their soul as surely as a road side bomb blows up young men in inadequately amoured vehicles.   We shouldn’t do this. It is not good for our souls either. We are better than this.  We know how to do this.  We should insist on better for our young people.

Who else agrees that we should stop putting young people in poorly structured jobs, with insufficient support and inadequate training?

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