A+ For AAA

My car broke down the other day, and as I’ve done many times in the last 27 years, I called AAA to bail me out.  I was a little miffed that I was on hold with music for about five minutes waiting for an agent to pick up my call, but it doesn’t usually take them that long and I wasn’t in a crisis situation, so it wasn’t a big deal.

My peevishness melted immediately as the first thing the agent asked me when she got on the line was if I was in any danger.  After assuring her I was safe, she cheerfully got all the information she needed, and told me someone would be there within 45 minutes.  Ten minutes later, I got an automatic text message saying a tow truck would be there by 10:45 – 15 minutes earlier than what I was told originally.  Good news.

Delivering on the Promise
Sure enough, at 10:45 on the dot the tow truck came around the corner to my location.  The driver was a young guy, probably 30-ish, and he came up to me with a smile, shook my hand and introduced himself.  I liked him right away.  He wanted to know about the trouble I was having with the car, and he asked if he could try to start it so he could see what was going on with it.  He quickly discovered that the car wasn’t going anywhere on its own, so he loaded it up and we got on the road back to my house.

On the way, I peppered him with questions – something I do every chance I get to talk with an employee who obviously likes his or her work.  I asked him how long he’s been with AAA (3 years) … how he likes what he’s doing … how he feels about the company … his boss … so on.

Caring and Freedom
A few things stood out for me that go to the heart of our approach to employee engagement. The first think he said was that his boss really cared about him.  I asked him what “really caring” looked like.   “Well, he’s easy to work with,” the guy responded.  “One thing is he’s flexible if I want to change my schedule or I have an emergency.  He never gives me any trouble about it.”  He went on to explain that the boss they had right before this one was the exact opposite, and everyone hated it.

So what else made him like his job besides a caring boss, I wondered.  “Probably the biggest thing is when I’m out on the road, I’m my own boss,” the guy said.  “They gave me training to start with, and my boss gives me help when I need it. But when I’m out here, I’m free to make my own decisions on what I need to do. I don’t have anyone standing over me telling me do this, do that, or do it this way. I really like that.”

Anyone who’s followed this column or the work we do with our clients over the years knows that the AAA employee put his finger on two of our most compelling principles:

  1. Of all the core management credibility factors for employees, care and concern are at the top of the list.  As the well-known saying goes, they don’t care how much you know as a boss until they know how much you care.
  2. If you want people to trust the organization, you have to start by making sure they have the right tools, information and training to do the job. Then you need to trust them to do whatever they think the job calls for – even if it doesn’t follow the letter of the law. More than that, you need to encourage them to take the initiative to do what they think is right and best. And here’s the tough part – when they screw up and make the wrong decision, which is inevitable – you have to acknowledge them for giving it their best effort, help them size up the incident and allow them to come with their own solutions for what they would do differently in the future.

You can click on this link for a 6-minute clip on other factors that build the trust and confidence employees need to be fully engaged and supported in doing their best.

Learn more about our approach to employee engagement in our free webinar, available to view on demand! For more information, send us an e-mail or call us today at 314-664-6497.

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3 thoughts on “A+ For AAA”

  1. Great article. I too like AAA’s service and attitude. Their team members take on “thinking like customers and acting like owners” to deliver what our customer’s want.

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