Customer Service and the Business Culture

Over 15 years ago, Southwest recognized just over 2,000 point of contact opportunities customers have, from the first call to arrival at their destination, and went to work to make each of those as positive an experience as possible. The results are in: Southwest is the most successful airline in the USA.

Former Southwest CEO James Parker attributes success to their business culture, “The business culture drives success by creating great leaders at every level. In a study in 2001, the productivity of Southwest employees was 45% higher than American and United.” And in a 2011 survey of all the major airlines, Southwest was rated #1 in customer service. Intelligent and well-regarded CEO Ken Chenault says, “Great service starts with the people who deliver it.”

American Express, when recently desiring to improve customer service globally, decided to focus on making life better for its 26,000 call center employees. The theory: Happier employees means happier customers. So what did they do? American Express asked their employees for suggestions on improvements. The program was very successful in setting new standards, considerably higher than even senior managers thought possible – ask the adults who work for you how to improve their work environment! Great idea? This concept is so new and revolutionary that FORTUNE magazine devoted a full page to spread the news!