Posts Tagged With: lead with luv

The Customer is King

As part of a new series, I’m introducing today’s leadership concept via a segment extracted from my latest book, Lead with LUV, coauthored by former Southwest Airlines president Colleen Barrett.

 

The Customer is King

I’ve said for many years that profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people. No organization has lived and breathed that lesson better than Southwest Airlines.  Read on for a great example of how Southwest creates Raving Fan customers by taking care of them like nobody else does.

Ken: These days, nobody has to convince anybody that the customer reigns. People are realizing that their organizations will go nowhere without the loyalty and commitment of their customers. Companies are motivated to change when they discover the new rule: Today, if you don’t take great care of your customers, somebody else will.

Colleen: That’s for sure! So great customer service has to be top of mind for all of your people. We emphasize that all the time. I love the way you and Sheldon Bowles challenged us all to create Raving Fans®, not simply satisfied customers.

Ken: We think enthusiastic Raving Fan customers make your business into a great business. Today you can’t be content to simply satisfy customers. Raving Fan customers are customers who are so excited about the way you treat them that they want to brag about you—they become part of your sales force. Let me give you a simple yet powerful example of this, from an experience I had personally with Southwest Airlines.

What usually happens when you call most airlines to either make or change a reservation?  You get a recording that says, “All of our agents are busy right now, but your business is very important to us, so please stay on the line and we will be with you as soon as possible.” Then the music starts. You could be on hold for who knows how long, sitting and waiting to talk to a human being.

Recently, I called Southwest to change a reservation. Normally at Southwest, a human being picks up the phone. This time, a recording said, “I’m sorry, our Customer Service Agents are all busy right now; but at the beep, please leave your name and telephone number and we will call you back within ten minutes.” So that’s what I did. What do you think happened a few minutes later? My cell phone rang, and this pleasant voice said, “Is this Ken Blanchard?”

I said, “Yes.”

“Ken, this is Bob from Southwest Airlines. How may I help you?”

Colleen, I’ve never had that experience with any other airline. How did you make that happen?

Colleen: That’s a feature that’s available to all airlines. It’s called virtual queuing. It helps us handle our heaviest calling times without lowering our Customer Service standard.

Ken: Why would Southwest use such a feature, and no other airline seems to be doing it?

Colleen: I don’t know. But we’re always looking for service capabilities that far exceed those of the competition, and that even exceed customer expectations. Being called back by an airline? It was beyond most customers’ belief. Yet we routinely try to do the unexpected, and can then enjoy the growth and good reputation generated by customers like you, Ken, who have spontaneously joined our sales force by bragging about us.

 

If you think it’s too much trouble to go the extra mile for your customers, think again. It’s just common sense: Treat your customers unexpectedly well and they’ll be so delighted they will come back again and again, tell their friends, and your organization will reap the benefits.  Do you have any great customer service stories that have become legendary around your organization? If not, you might want to stop and think about it.

Categories: Customer Service, Passion, Relationships | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Lead with LUV – Servant Leadership

Categories: Servant Leadership | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding Servant Leadership

As part of a new series, I’m introducing today’s leadership concept via a segment extracted from my latest book, Lead with LUV, coauthored by former Southwest Airlines president Colleen Barrett.

 

Understanding Servant Leadership

For those of you who may not be clear on the concept of servant leadership, read this excerpt from Lead with LUV where Colleen and I discuss why servant leadership is the very best way to lead.

Colleen: Ken, it makes me sad when people hear the term servant leadership and, as you have said, they think you’re talking about la-la land where the inmates are running the prison or trying to please everyone.

Ken: The problem is that they don’t understand leadership or, more importantly, servant leadership. They think you can’t lead and serve at the same time. Yet you can, if you understand that there are two kinds of leadership involved in servant leadership: strategic leadership and operational leadership. Strategic leadership has to do with vision/direction. It’s the leadership part of servant leadership. The focus for strategic leadership is the “what” that ensures everyone is going in the same direction. This is all important because:

Leadership is about going somewhere—

If you and your people don’t know where you are going,

Your leadership doesn’t matter

Alice learned this lesson in Alice in Wonderland when she was searching for a way out of Wonderland and came to a fork in the road. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” she asked the Cheshire Cat. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the cat said. Alice replied that she really did not much care. The smiling cat told her in no uncertain terms, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Colleen: At Southwest, we’ve always tried to make sure everyone knows where we are heading. Then, of course, we had to make it all happen.

Ken: In essence, that’s what operational leadership is about:  implementation—the “how” of the organization. This is the servant part of servant leadership. It’s what leaders focus on after everyone is clear on where they are going. It includes policies, procedures, systems, and leader behaviors that cascade from senior management to frontline employees and make it possible for the organization to live according to its vision and values and accomplish short-term goals and initiatives. These management practices create the environment that employees and customers interact with and respond to on a daily basis.

I hope you all believe, as I do, that effective leadership starts on the inside. Servant leadership is not just another management technique. It is a way of life for those with a servant’s heart.  The byproducts are better leadership, better service, a higher performing organization, and more success and significance. Stop and think about this:  Are you a servant leader?

Categories: Communication, Servant Leadership | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Lead with LUV – Test for Humor

Categories: Communication, Community, Humor, Workplace Culture | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Lead with LUV – Letter to Herb

Categories: Communication, Feedback, Humor, Listening | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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