Before flying to visit a client, I made a reservation at a UK airport business lounge so I could finish some important work on the way. The facilities on offer were exactly what I needed: a table, refreshments and most importantly, Wi-Fi.

I made my way through airport security with no fuss, along the terminal corridor and up the stairs to the lounge.

I was greeted by a sign by the door that said, “Please wait here to be seated.” I waited by the sign.

About fifteen feet in front of me, sat a young Lady on a high stall behind a lectern.. She looked up at me and then looked back down at whatever it was she was doing.  It was obvious that I wasn’t going to be seated, so I made my way to the counter.

“Hello” I said. The young lady replied, “Hello.” We looked at each other in some kind of standoff. “Are you going to ask how you can help me?” I said. She looked back down at whatever it was that was taking her attention and then said, without turning in my direction “Have you made a booking?”

This interaction wasn’t going well! First, I had been left standing around for no reason, now it looked like I was going to have to lead the conversation, just to get myself seated.

I asked if she was talking to me. She looked up puzzled. “What are you trying to say, sir?” she said.

“You were talking to your lap” I replied. I pointed to the sign by the door and asked why it was there if it served no purpose. She looked in the direction of the sign and said, “I didn’t put it there.”

I pointed out that perhaps it is polite to stand up and greet a customer when they come in to her lounge, or that she might think about saying, “Hello, nice to meet you, how may I help you?”

She looked at me like I was the worst person in the world and put me in a position of doubt. Is it appropriate for me to point out that I wasn’t happy with the service?

She looked towards the door and sarcastically told me ‘Have a nice day.’

I wasn’t seated. I later discovered that it was free for all. Anyone could sit anywhere. However, it was pretty busy so I had to wait around for a table before I could begin working.

It’s not the worst service I’ve ever had, but I use this example because being polite is possibly the easiest and the most important part of client supplier interaction, and one would imagine that it was the easiest one to manage when representing your business.

Was I right to tell her how I thought she should do her job?

What would you have done in my place?

Until next time.

Oliver.