The holiday travel season offers so many opportunities to watch excellent and horrible customer experiences play out before you. The annual year-end parade of travel horror stories -- presented as comic -- must have felt awful to the people who experienced these nightmares. (e.g. waiting up to 11 hours on the tarmac)
When you know your systems are going to be stretched to the limit, it can really help people to experience a human voice in communication. This hand-drawn sign I saw at a WestJet counter recently is exactly the kind of thing I mean. It engages because of its humanity. It's the antithesis of bureaucracy-speak.
The words at the top say: "We all thank you for being prepared ... especially the guy behind you in line."
A bank manager taught me a similar lesson some years ago. He was writing things like "Manager's Loan Sale" on a similar white-board and putting it near the teller line. It stood out precisely because it wasn't official, wasn't formal, wasn't a pre-printed poster, and wasn't scripted by head office.
Sometimes we need to let go of consistency in communication in order to leave enough room for some humanity.