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
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?
We think of a kaleidoscope as a creator of colorful images—like great service. But, the images are created by the way jewels are mirrored. Innovative service that is profoundly remarkable has character—core values reflected or mirrored in its delivery. The images produced may change, but the jewels never change. We do not open up a kaleidoscope and put in more gems or jewels.
“Try to be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.” -Maya Angelou
Give us an example of “innovative service that sparkles”?
It is the diner waitress who places a bouquet of flowers on your table and tells you they were sent to her the day before by her husband for their anniversary, “…and, I just wanted to share them with you.” It is a service tech in an auto dealership who programs in the radio stations into a customer’s new car from her trade-in and just lets the customer discover it. It is the flight attendant on a flight who writes you a personal handwritten note thanking you for your loyalty.
“Customer loyalty comes from making the experience unique and special.” -Chip Bell
What are some of the leadership values that are essential to creating an authentic, powerful service experience?
First, it is leaders creating a clear, compelling purpose, vision or mission—in terms that both instruct and inspire. Second, it is leaders who demonstrate (by their actions) that they have complete trust in their employees. Third, it is leaders who treat employees with the same care and attention they expect those employees to demonstrate to customers. Finally, it is leaders who constantly look for ways to more effectively resource their front line (support, training, authority, guidance, etc.).
What makes a customer loyal?
Loyalty comes from many practices. It starts with a demonstration of respect and gratitude. Customers have many options; we should thank them for choosing us. It is about promise keeping—always being worthy of the customer’s trust. It includes looking for ways to involve customers—people care when they share. It also involves helping customers get smarter. And, loyalty can also come from making the experience unique and special.
“Loyalty starts with a demonstration of respect and gratitude.” -Chip Bell
What are some of the ways the best organizations stand out and sparkle?
The best organizations decorate as many customers’ experiences as they can. Making experiences special signals you care. They care about long term relationships far more than short-term transactions. They are community-centered and work to be great citizens in the space where they do business. They promote growth—for associates and customers. And, they go out of their way to celebrate greatness (and goodness).
“Neglect is more dangerous than strife; apathy costlier than error.” -Chip Bell
This is a guest post by Monika Götzmann. Monika is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in customer service coaching.
Customer service can have a decisive role in the success or failure of a business. In fact, an American Express survey found that 59 percent of people would try a new brand for a better customer service experience, while 70 percent are willing to spend more with companies who provide a great service.
59% of people would try a new brand for a better service experience.
Unconventional Yet Effective Customer Service Training Tactics
Here, we look at three unconventional customer service training tactics to help your business stand out:
1. Customer Service Training for Everyone
One highly-effective, yet unconventional, tactic is to insist that everybody in a company undergoes customer service training, even if their role is not directly linked to delivering customer service.
Perhaps the most notable example of this is Zappos, who insist that every recruit goes through four weeks of customer service training. The result is that all staff members, even in corporate positions, have first-hand experience of dealing with customers and can better understand their needs.
“Customer service is not a department. It’s everyone’s job.” -Unknown
Another unorthodox customer service training method is to focus on consumer psychology. Although people are all different, there are a number of behaviors and thought processes that are fairly typical for all consumers. According to Harsh Vardhan, writing for “YFS Magazine,” some of the fundamental customer traits are as follows:
When given a choice, customers generally pick the easier way
Customers want reassurance or solutions as quickly as possible
Pricing is not so important to loyal customers
Teaching your reps these basic concepts can allow them to deliver more satisfactory customer service.
“The customer’s perception is your reality.” -Kate Kabriskie