As I ordered my espresso in the Atlanta airport, the young man behind the register asked, “Where are you traveling today?”. I was actually caught off guard a bit, as I don’t often hear small talk coming from baristas (I imagine it’s mostly because they seem quite busy most of the time). When I responded, I expected some form of mini-conversations to go down. But…nothing. No big deal, there’s a line behind me, I told myself. But then I heard him ask the same question to the gentleman behind me and the exact same scenario ensued.
I’m making an assumption here, but I bet someone – his manager, or a corporate operations exec – threw down a mandate that all employees should ask “Where are you traveling today?” to every customer in some lame attempt at establishing a connection or…dare I say…engagement. That’s a checklist, folks. That’s a process. And that’s entirely different than fostering a culture that motivates employees to care about customers.