The recent events in our nation's airlines points to a real problem -- people have been dangerously devalued. I have watched and read with interest as two major airlines tried to reason why violent behavior toward their customers was considered acceptable. Some of the excuses I read were that these companies have priorities, they have procedures to follow, or that the day-to-day functioning is too complicated for everyday people to understand.
But when the dust settled and the bruises faded something remarkable came to the surface: the revelation that companies serve people. In a statement released April 27th, United Airlines president, Oscar Munoz, made remarks that reflected a sad reality. His company had lost sight of the value of their customers. In a carefully worded statement, he promised to make the adjustments needed to make customer service a top priority and hoped that other airlines would follow their example.
When I heard this, I thought I had crossed into the Twilight Zone. Did they think they transported cargo or livestock? Did they only now realized their seats were filled with precious people?
The airlines are getting targeted right now because of a few high profile cases, but this loss of perspective of who companies serve is the same whether it is flight, food, banking, or healthcare. The value of a person is at an all time low. When we do this, we lose the reason to treat everyone with “empathy, patience, respect, and dignity” as Mr. Munoz is now discovering.
I run two businesses so I understand that profits are important. But I also understand that people are more important because without people you don't have a business. Businesses starts with people and end with people: Someone creates a dream called a business and others invest in that dream called customers. When business started calling people "consumers," instead of “customers” or “clients,” they demoted people to an animal, or worse. Consumer is a term reserved for earthworms and creatures that consume what is produced by more complex organisms. Consumers consume; they do not produce.
Consumer is not a fitting term for people because people are creators, inventors, dreamers, builders, and healers. We use resources to create new ones. When we access a business, it is always to help us complete the work of a dream, not merely to consume resources.
I propose three steps to help turn this around:
- Write one of your favorite companies and ask them to again use the term “customer” or “client.” Send a copy of this article so they understand why the word “consumer” cheapens their product or services.
- Refer to yourself as a customer or client when speaking with businesses. Change the conversation. You have the power to do that.
- Refuse to support businesses who don’t treat people as priceless individuals. Money talks when values walk.
I am writing an organic farming magazine to ask them just that. Family run organic farms understand the value of their business and their customers. Now it is time to help them use the right words to reflect this value. It's time to stop being passive while people are treated worse ad worse. Time to initiate positive change, my friend.
Tell me how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.
That's all for this week.
Remember you are priceless & powerful,
Wholeness Living Thought Leader
Wholeness Living Thought Leader