This is a true story that might apply to your business. You decide.
We landed in a hot and smoggy Rome airport after three flights that took all night. We were packed to the gills for a three-week trip including sightseeing, cruise, beach, and a family wedding, for not just us but our daughter and son-in-law and grandson. We’d managed to go through the passport check, find our luggage, get through customs, and, finally, after maybe an hour in the airport, jet lagged and exhausted, we found the right place to pick up the taxis we’d reserved.
And of course we had reserved taxis in advance, through the concierge in the hotel we’d reserved in advance. We knew we were going to be in bad state at this point.
Finally we found one driver who had our name and was waiting for us. At last. Between our Spanish and English and his Italian we asked him where the other driver was. Over and over, the same basic question: “Where is the other driver?”
Time passed as we struggled with the language. Frustration — his and ours — grew. He failed to understand our question and we failed to explain what we needed. It got hotter and smoggier.
Then suddenly his face brightened. He flashed us a huge smile, full of visible relief. He pointed upwards with his right index finger. Then he very carefully composed his answer to us, in three words, each pronounced carefully, one by one, in English:
Not my problem.
And that was that.
Business lesson? Maybe.
The rest of the story? No big deal. The ones with the baby drove with him and the rest of us went to the end of the taxi line and waited obediently for a taxi in the queue.
“Not my problem” really says not good business. What’s interesting about this is the missed opportunity. Instead of saying, “not my problem,” how about simultaneously (1) turning a customer into a fan by solving the problem (e.g., calling a second cab), (2) acquiring valuable word of mouth marketing / new business (because you would probably be telling everyone to call this driver to escort them around Rome); and (3) doing a favor for a colleague by bringing him new business (and getting him out of the long taxi cue that costs cabs money while they’re waiting).
Welcome to South Europe! It’s a norm here… 🙂