Remarkable Experiences: To Give Is To Receive

Last week I found myself sitting on one of the 130 or so airplanes I find myself sitting on every year. My fellow passengers and I were all sitting there as we waited to take off. It was raining hard. We heard the usual dings, dongs, and announcements. The pilot came walking down the aisle. He was introducing himself to everyone. Everyone.

When he got to the seasoned business-travel veteran in seat 3C, he made a joke about flying. When he got to the nervous woman in seat 10A, he reassured her that the flight would stabilize after we took off. When he got to the family with the crying toddler, he offered some baby talk, some comforting words, and a piece of candy.

Every member of the crew had the same attitude. They were all nicer than your average flight attendant.

When the captain passed my seat on his way back to the cockpit, I stopped him and asked if he did this on every flight and why he did it. He said, “You know, people will hate our company or love it based on a lot of things. My crew and I play such a tiny part that it would be easy to do less. Nobody would notice. But we do what we do anyway. I’m a lot happier if my crew, my passengers, and I all have a great experience. It makes the job better.”

His outlook put me in mind of my grandfather, who used to ask me, “What experience have you created for someone today?” He understood that when you create a positive experience for another person, you get that experience, too. This captain and his crew were living testament to that idea. They weren’t asking passengers to fill out a comment card. They weren’t trying to raise the company’s net-promoter score. They were simply creating the best experience they could for others, thus pulling more value for themselves.

Man, this lesson applies to us as content practitioners, especially those who work in larger companies. It may feel at times that the content we create is a drop in the ocean of the overall customer experience. No matter what we do, our company will probably get some great ratings and some not-so-great ratings, averaging out to somewhere in the middle.

Still, we always have a choice. We can do our job by the book, resigned to the notion that, in the scheme of things, any experience we create has a minuscule effect. Or we can commit to creating remarkable experiences, one after the other. When we take the second approach, we get to enjoy our work over and over.

What remarkable experiences have you created today?

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