A Culture of Appreciation

 
Old Jul 7, 10, 7:09 am
  #1  
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A Culture of Appreciation

I was just reading the recent thread on AApplause certificates. I have used these on occasion, but agree with the poster on that thread that referenced the alternative means of complimenting an AA employee – sending a note to customer service. It can be done easily from the AA website. I have done this on several occasions and in each instance received a reply from management as well as assurance that the positive feedback would be communicated to the employee(s) involved. When I have a particularly helpful encounter with a CSR, I end the conversation with a request to be given contact information for his/her superior to whom I can communicate about my good experience.

Most of the AA employees I’ve encountered are decent, hardworking people who desire to offer excellent service. They are frequently yelled at and abused by customers and can understandably get frustrated. We tend to vent our frustration on those we encounter instead of those who promulgate the policies that are making our life difficult. That’s neither fair nor effective. Those of us who deal with them often also know that by being patient, respectful, and understanding, we are treated well in return. Who among us who has been kind to a CSR hasn’t heard the words, “Hang on a second and let me see what I can do for you” in response.

I would offer the modest proposal that those of us who encounter these people on a regular basis take the small amount of time necessary to be sure that excellent service is documented at the highest level possible. A word of appreciation is, I’m sure, always welcome by the employee, but when a passenger takes the time to send an email or note to management, the effect is much greater.

One could parse out what level of service deserves recognition given how low some of our expectations may be, but what's the harm in being generous. If a flight arrived on time because loading was handled efficiently and the cabin crew was friendly and helpful, of if the GA greeted each passenger with a smile and "welcome aboard", what's so bad about saying so.

Although this is not my motivation, I would bet that if more of us signed on to make it our business to give or send a thank you when appropriate, word would get out and the level of service would rise as a result. There are admittedly good employees who will do the best job they can regardless of the recognition, but human nature is a powerful motivator, and most people will do better when they know their good work is being noticed and appreciated.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 7:37 am
  #2  
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I take the time to give face to face feedback, to e-mail AA about any exceptional service (on either side of the coin) and in general agree with your post.

It's a bit more difficult when AA itself diminishes the even small incentive programs to recognize employees: the SOS program, which offered certificates one could fill out and give an employee, provided chits that were useful - employees could actually cash those in for a variety of awards including travel, appliances, etc.

AA in its narrow vision killed the program because it was too costly - I'd venture to say it was a very cost-effective incentives program that began to make up for the supervisory input AA gave up to the union (undoubtedly for some financial concession). After some time and some lobbying by AAdvantage members, AA came out with the mere shadow of the SOS program, the current AAplause chits - which can be entered into a drawing for AAdvantage miles.

American Airlines does not enjoy a culture of appreciation, nor do they benefit from the presence of leadership, in my opinion. (AA sees the future, but has no vision.) These would do much to get an airline back on track to profitability and better employee relations, IMO.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 7:48 am
  #3  
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Agreed, but my proposal is that we, the passengers, lead by example. We can create, or contribute to, a culture of appreciation that goes from bottom (that'd be us!) up. Maybe it'll catch on. If nothing else, it could help an AA employee have a better day.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 7:54 am
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I do agree most of it. However, I think of another point why AA kill the program.
I am not saying everyone, but in reality, who will most likely giving out the applause cert? Employee's friend & family!!
In return, the employee will egar to "break the rule" to give their friend & family more flexible/perks/upgrades. That's often anger rev-paying pax (if found).
Once again, I am not saying for everyone, I do e-mail AA for excellent service as well, but however, it's just a system, someone will abuse it... unfortunately...
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Old Jul 7, 10, 8:00 am
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I have to believe that this is a very small percentage of the certificates, and can be diminished even further by AA's judicious distribution of the certificates to elite passengers only.


Originally Posted by cliffordchan View Post
I do agree most of it. However, I think of another point why AA kill the program.
I am not saying everyone, but in reality, who will most likely giving out the applause cert? Employee's friend & family!!
In return, the employee will egar to "break the rule" to give their friend & family more flexible/perks/upgrades. That's often anger rev-paying pax (if found).
Once again, I am not saying for everyone, I do e-mail AA for excellent service as well, but however, it's just a system, someone will abuse it... unfortunately...
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Old Jul 7, 10, 8:23 am
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Originally Posted by nancy61 View Post
I have to believe that this is a very small percentage of the certificates, and can be diminished even further by AA's judicious distribution of the certificates to elite passengers only.
Me, my wife, my son, my sister, my brother, my mother all AA elites, and I am the one booking all the flight for them. If we have to give all 20 cert to one AA employee friend (which we don't have), that could be something; not to mention my co-workers, quite a few of them are AA elites as well, I could get the cert from them, since they never used it.

How many cert could one employee possibly get from daily routine job?

Employee will take the time to find ways to "please" their relative/friend, instead of focusing on their routine job. Human tends to find an easy way out... well, I am not implied all.

Just a thought.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 8:42 am
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Originally Posted by MilesMark View Post
They are frequently yelled at and abused by customers and can understandably get frustrated. We tend to vent our frustration on those we encounter instead of those who promulgate the policies that are making our life difficult.
I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about sending letters. When I receive this exceptional level of service, I do write to AA.com. I've even received comment from one of my favorite AAngels when I next spoke with her that she had received a copy of the letter and a commendation in her record. It was clear that this meant more than certificates would have.

However, I have to take exception to the comment above. While I'm sure it does happen, we travel quite a lot each year,and the instances of passengers being abusive to AA staff are very few and far between. Sure, it happens, but let's not bend over so far backwards as to blow it out of proportion.

Cheers.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 9:58 am
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As an employee that does not work the front lines, I can say, without reservation, that a letter does much more for me than an applause certificate.
As to the allegation that an employee would urge elite family/friends to give them certs for perks- ridiculous.
I have never heard of anyone soliciting AAplause certs and frankly, I value my job and benefits way too much to risk it by breaking rules and I would wager that most of my co-workers feel the same.
And I agree wholeheartedly with the OP. A kind word via a letter or just a few words written on a napkin make more of an impact than the certs.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 10:07 am
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Originally Posted by brp View Post
I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about sending letters. When I receive this exceptional level of service, I do write to AA.com. I've even received comment from one of my favorite AAngels when I next spoke with her that she had received a copy of the letter and a commendation in her record. It was clear that this meant more than certificates would have.
I recently had a situation where I was able to work with an AAngel over the phone. He completely went above and beyond the call of due as he could sense the panic and worry in my voice. As usual after a great experience like this, I later wrote a note to Customer Relations. I actually received an email response back from a Premium Services manager who thanked me for sending in a note about this AAngel. I could see from the cc: that the email also went to the rest of the AC staff, the CK staff, and a few other Premium Services managers.

I already plan on getting a little gift for him the next time I pass through that AC, but I'm also glad that the manager took the time to recognise/praise him publicly to the rest of the team.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 10:15 am
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Originally Posted by MilesMark View Post
I would offer the modest proposal that those of us who encounter these people on a regular basis take the small amount of time necessary to be sure that excellent service is documented at the highest level possible.
I believe many of us here already do this through the contact form on the website. Many posts indicate that these comments are shared with the employee and copies are included in their files.

MilesMark, if for some reason you think AA employees don't get a lot of appreciation here, have you seen this thread?

Kudos / Applause / Recognition for AA Employees (consolidated)
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Old Jul 7, 10, 10:47 am
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Videomaker, thanks so much for pointing that out. No, I wasn't aware of it (sorry about that). What a wonderful idea. I'm pleased to see how many people take the time to acknowledge stand-out service.

When I first said in my original post that "we tend to vent", I was referring to the "collective" we. I don't vent on AA employees, and I'm sure that the seasoned travelers and good folk on FT are not among the guilty either.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 10:58 am
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Originally Posted by MilesMark View Post
When I first said in my original post that "we tend to vent", I was referring to the "collective" we. I don't vent on AA employees, and I'm sure that the seasoned travelers and good folk on FT are not among the guilty either.
Oh, there are plenty of venting threads on the AA forum.

Of course, the "contact us" form and other methods of letting AA know about employee performance work both ways--for good service and bad. Most of my experiences have been good, so I've sent a lot more comments praising employees than those few times things weren't quite up to expectations.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 1:37 pm
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I make a point to treat AA staffers well and to e-mail CS about positive interactions. I had never used my AAplause certificates until last month when I had a particularly challenging cancellation to deal with. Neither the Admirals Club, the Platinum desk, nor my corporate travel agency could help (or seemed to care). Yet one GA worked a miracle, and was very happy to do so. I gave him all 36 of my certificates that I had stashed in my briefcase, and I asked him if they were really worth anything to employees and he said he would be thrilled to get them.
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Old Jul 7, 10, 1:45 pm
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I always treat all AA personnel (and everyone in general) with the utmost respect. They are professionals in a demanding, stressful work environment that is completely unpredictable and can change dramatically and suddenly with little warning (WX, MX, etc), resulting in irate customers who tend to scream at front-line employees who have no control over what is happening. They all deserve our admiration and respect for choosing this line of work and delivering such excellent service in almost all cases.

Are there occasional bad eggs? Of course. But the same applies to every line of work. In fact, I find it impressive that AA has so few bag eggs given how challenging and unpredictable the work environment is.

I use the AApplause certificates to recognize employees who deliver truly outstanding and exceptional customer service, and/or who go the extra mile to help me. If an employee goes WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty to help me, then I also write a letter to Customer Relations via AA.com. One only can hope that these letters reach the appropriate supervisors.


Once, I asked an International Purser about letters from customers. He said:

"If it's a bad letter, it will be in your file in 2 weeks. If it's a good letter, it will take 6 months to get there. That's how things work."

Last edited by ESpen36; Jul 7, 10 at 1:50 pm
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Old Jul 7, 10, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by scraps View Post
I gave him all 36 of my certificates that I had stashed in my briefcase, and I asked him if they were really worth anything to employees and he said he would be thrilled to get them.


Um.....IMHO, that's overkill.

The AApplause certificates each allow one entry to a drawing for 20,000 AAdvantage miles. Presumably having more than one certificate allows multiple entries for a single drawing. I'm sure he was delighted, but that would be like tipping a bartender $100.

I know that, in the moment, you felt like the guy saved your life, but in reality there were probably a half dozen other GAs at that station who might have done the same if you had happened to be standing in front of them instead.

My opinion is to spread out the certs over the course of the elite membership year as you encounter exceptional employees in multiple areas (reservations, AAngels, agents, crews, etc). If you get to February and you've got only a couple left from the previous year's bunch, you're doing well.
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