For the second time in the past two months, I got on a plane. It wasn't scary, by the way. It's definitely different, but not scary.
In both cases, I flew to New York City on a Delta flight. I've written on several occasions how Delta is working to keep people safe, including restricting the middle seat on flights to reduce the number of people on a flight, as well as increase the distance between them.
For the record, if we get to vote on things we'd like to keep from the pandemic when all of this is over, no middle seats gets my pick. It's one of the main reasons I'm willing to travel on an airplane right now.
That's not the point, however. On this trip, the most remarkable thing that happened came after we had landed. As the plane approached our gate at LaGuardia Airport, the crew did something you might not expect, especially at a time when most of us have grown used to creating social distance.
Then again, the last thing you want between you and your customers is distance. Sure, staying six feet apart physically is important. So is wearing a mask.
Both of those things, as a metaphor, however, are the opposite of your ultimate goal, which is to create relationships with your customers. Relationships require touchpoints, even if not physical ones.
Which is what makes what the crew did on this flight so remarkable. Before we reached the gate, the flight attendant came around and delivered handwritten notes. The note was simple, but honestly, what it said was far less significant than the fact that it was personalized and handwritten. Maybe it's just because there are fewer people traveling right now, so the crew had the time to do something like this, but I think there's more to it.
Of course, right now, when you might be serving fewer customers is exactly the time you should be extending a personal touch. Those customers are the ones who have stuck with you despite the fact that there's a pandemic upsetting almost every part of our lives.
By the way, I have strong feelings about handwritten notes for a few reasons. The first is that almost no one actually uses them anymore. It's very rare that someone sits down with paper and ink, puts it in an envelope with a stamp, and addresses it to you. Instead, they're far more likely to send a text message or an email, because it's simply more convenient.
Which is really the problem. When you choose the more convenient option, you send a subtle message about what's really important.
When someone takes the time to write something by hand, it says far more than had they sent an email or simply signed a preprinted card. It communicates that they care. Why else would they sit down with a pen and paper and go through the effort of writing down a few words?
It's easy to underestimate how important this is right now. Every time you interact with a customer, you have an opportunity to reinforce your values and build the relationship. At a time when personal connections are more than a bit strained, every effort you make to reach out to your customers--or anyone, for that matter--is a big deal.