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a blog by Chris Barrow

The gift of a name and the offer of a handshake – how Emirates remind us of the human touch.

I’ve been fortunate enough to fly Business Class with Emirates on more than one occasion this year – and yet noticed a small but interesting change in their customer journey during my flights to and from Australia.

On boarding the aircraft, before the offer of a complimentary drink and hot towel, the presiding steward or stewardess now introduces themselves by name to each passenger and offers a handshake.

Melbourne to Singapore – “Good afternoon, my name is Lucy and I’ll be looking after you on the flight this evening.”

Singapore to Dubai – “Good morning, my name is Roy and I’ll be looking after you on the flight this morning.”

Dubai to Manchester – “Good morning, my name is Paula and I’ll be looking after you on the flight today.”

Introduction – gift of name – offer of handshake.

What was interesting (as a passenger) is that this made me feel more at ease and created an environment in which I ended up chatting with all three of them during the flight.

Two reasons this caught my attention:

  1. I don’t recall that happening during my earlier flights to South Africa this year;

  2. We were discussing exactly this point during my team training day with Dental Boutique in Melbourne on Thursday.

I had invested an hour on Wednesday morning just sitting in the gorgeous patient lounge and watching the ebb and flow of patients, TCOs, nurses, therapists and dentists.

Let’s begin by establishing that this is one of the top 3 most beautiful clinics I have visited in my 23-year career in dentistry.

It’s also hugely successful and employs a Champions League team – I’ve been working with them for a year and have seen a change of location and the development of world-class people and systems.

However, I noticed team members walking to the edge of the lounge, asking the patient by name to follow them and then generally chatting as they made their way to a surgery or consult room.

All very friendly and nice.

My question on Thursday was whether they had considered an introduction by name (every time a new face appeared) and the offer of a handshake?

No big surprise that there was some resistance from Millennials, who felt uncomfortable with the idea of taking the lead with members of their own demographic and others who were older.

I suppose it’s just an aspect of our changing society that the handshake has become less important (interesting that not one member of the team knew where the handshake had originated as a habit, clearly not so much sword-play in the history of Australia).

Given that a significant number of their patients are not Millennials, I asked them to at least trial this new habit and see how it feels.

If Millennial air-crew at Emirates can make that part of their Business Class experience – then why can’t you?

My request this Monday morning is that you observe whether that is happening at your practice and consider the change.

It’s a small touch that makes a big difference.

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