Go ‘No’: A Play in Three Acts

Go ?No?: A Play in Three Acts

Act 1 

Weekend in October 2011: Man vs. Commodity

My husband is a “Million Mile Flyer” (actual miles flown) on United Airlines. After a bungle on a recent flight, they sent him a certificate to compensate him for their actions. This weekend he attempted to use the certificate, and they not only informed him he had used the certificate before — which he did not — but also refused to research it, and then charged him double. At this point, the audience should get up and leave. 

Act 2 

Same weekend in October: Woman vs. the Nordstrom Myth

My mom wanted to return a pair of shoes to Nordstrom Rack. She had neither a box nor a receipt proving where the shoes came from, but we figure we’d give it a shot. We went to the Rack and were told if we showed the credit card they could confirm the purchase, but even so, they didn’t accept worn shoes nor did they accept purchases more than 30 days old. Two strikes against her.  The manager took over the transaction. We handed him three credit cards. No luck. He said if we could find any proof of purchase, he would do “something.” Upon returning home, our crack detective team found a purchase on our online statement that we thought was it. The date was February — seven months ago. The manager was still willing to try, which meant going completely against “policy.” While I was pulling on my mom’s shirt saying, “Let’s go, let’s go,” the manager never seemed the least bit annoyed and wanted to make us happy. “No” was not in his language. As the curtain closes, the audience jumps to their feet, applauds and shouts, “Bravo, Nordstrom! Bravo, Martin!” Holly Stiel once wrote a book called “The Wings of ‘No,’” and this demonstrates her tremendous wisdom.

We certainly would have understood a reasonable policy and donated the shoes to a shelter. Martin could have saved 30 minutes by explaining that with the right amount of apology and compassion he learned in “Training 101.” Instead, Martin pulled his wings out of his jacket — in other words, he gave alternatives to the word “no.” The word “No” applied toward guests, associates and customers usually lands like a prison door shutting. Reaching beyond “no” creates the experiences you say you are after. Good experiences are the opposite of “no.” “No” shuts doors. Anything else opens them.

For those of you who follow my blog, you know where I stand on the Language of Hospitality — how the language we use creates or diminishes results in our profits and hotel experiences.  

Act 3

Experiment with excellence by removing the word “no” from your culture entirely. Watch the great experiences pile up.

Curtain closes. The audience rushes the stage. Flowers are thrown. “Yes,” we have no bananas.