The two ease of service excellence

I've always believed that empowerment was the essential ingredient to fantastic customer service experience. If a service provider is either naturally an empowered person or has been trained and given permission to be empowered,  stand back because they will solve problems quickly for the customer. I still believe this, but after a trip to Asia recently it became clear to me that there is another "e" in service and that is empathy. Every experience I had, whether at a restaurant, hotel and especially with the airlines was based foremost on empathy. This came in many forms. One example is when a flight attendant would talk to you, she or he would bend down to be at your level and you look you in the eye.  I immediately noticed the difference when I boarded and sat down for my flight home on a Canadian airline that the flight attendants stood over me, even towering.  I associated this with being in a classroom with a dominant teacher versus being in my living room with an attedant "friend" there to listen. I found the Asian service to be empathetic and that means repeating back what I said for clarification (versus jumping in and defending themselves) and then (if there was an issue) saying something like "I can understand you must be exhausted from your travels, let me look into this right away, I am sure I can solve this quickly."

Great service has two e's, one for empowerment to make quick decisions (what is right for the customer and our business) and empathy (let the client know you hear them and you can relate to their pain or concern).