Today I board a Southwest Airlines flight knowing that there’s a hole in the center of the heart-shaped corporate icon. Cofounder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, just passed away at the age of 87.
He was a legend not only in the airline business, but in any type of business. He was a unique mix of innovation, motivation, and vision.
Here are a few of his quotes on strategy, customer service, culture, and leadership. So many of these quotes I have used whether on stage in a presentation or in a boardroom.
Rest in peace, Mr. Kelleher.
Kelleher Quotes to Inspire Your Strategy
“We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” -Herb Kelleher
Our stories are very different, and yet there are some striking common themes: Both of us started in restaurants as dishwashers and became CEOs. Both of us mapped out our goals early in life. Both of us believe in people as the way to transform company culture.
Perhaps that is why I was immediately drawn into the pages of Cameron Mitchell’s compelling book.
More likely the answer to my intrigue is the fact that I find myself in one of his restaurants every week. You can always count on superb service, delicious food, and an inviting atmosphere.
Whenever I hear the word “amazing,” I immediately think of my friend Shep Hyken. He probably has the work trademarked. Shep sets the bar high for customer experiences and challenges leaders everywhere to raise their game. It’s not enough to be good. You need to be AMAZING.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He’s also a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and he has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession.
“Amazement is all about showing up at the top of your game.” -Shep Hyken
In this video interview, we talk about the six principles of the convenience revolution. Shep shares examples ranging from 7-11, Amazon, Uber, Panera, Salesforce, Walmart, to small businesses like Shep’s personalized car dealership and a dentist that delivers wow experiences. Learn how these six principles can revolutionize your organization:
“What happens on the inside is felt on the outside by the customer.” -Shep Hyken
It’s not easy running a business today. A single customer complaint, handled improperly, can send your business into a tailspin. At the same time, if you respond to every single customer complaint, you end up wasting time and money chasing an unsolvable problem.
You say that, “The customer is not always right. In fact, the customer is often blatantly wrong.” Share your perspective on this. How did “the customer is always right” develop and where did it go wrong?
All of your readers will have their own favorite “unreasonable or crazy customer stories.” In our experience, after complaining about accountants and management, it’s in most salespeople’s top five favorite cocktail party conversation topics.
We start our book with a list of completely clueless, hilarious, and real customer complaints.
Our favorites are:
“I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits, like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
“Although the brochure said there was a ‘fully equipped kitchen,’ there was no egg slicer in the drawers.”
“We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers, as they were all Spanish.”
Funny when you read them, but scary when you hear that these are 100% real complaints left by real customers. Is the customer right to be upset that the local store doesn’t sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts? Or a customer who complains of too many Spanish people in Spain? Of course not. In these examples, the customers are blatantly nuts.
This idea that “the customer is always right” is one of those things that’s easy for management to tell their frontline employees; it sounds good in practice, and it leads to tremendous wasted time, effort, and often burnout. Because, sometimes, you really do have to fire customers – one of the things we talk about at length in the book. Telling your people that the customer is always right is asking them to close their eyes to reality, and when you ask them to do that, it hurts your ability to ask them to do anything else. After all, with some of the complaints above, how could those customers be right? What does it mean to treat the customer as if they’re right?