Many of you have heard or read about the great customer service provided by Southwest Airlines. This is a company who has and continues to set the standard in caring for their passengers. My experience with Southwest Airlines has always been positive. The ticket agents, gate agents, flight attendants, and pilots have provided me with consistent, friendly, and patient services.
I can vividly remember a time where I was dealing with many things in my mind. As I approached the baggage check-in area, I was ill prepared. Unfortunately, my attitude was not great when I spoke with the Southwest agents. Even through my poor attitude, they were undeterred and proceeded to coach me through what I needed. I ended up apologizing to both the agents and they graciously smiled accepting my apology.
Do you want some insight into why Southwest Airlines is so customer focused, and what drives them as their employees set standards that consistently exceed passenger expectations? Then you need to read this book. James F. Parker was the CEO of Southwest Airlines from June 2001 through July 2004. Before that, in 1986 he joined Southwest Airlines as General Counsel. James guided Southwest through the toughest economic turmoil, in the airline industry, during my life-time…the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the subsequent fear of ongoing air travel. Through that time of upheaval in our nation, Southwest continued to care for their employees and customers. Although the finances were tight, all salaries and bonuses were fully paid on-time for the full-time employees who were not executive level. Southwest was also the only major airline that managed to stay profitable during that stretch of difficulties.
Earlier this year (January 28th, 2019), James died unexpectedly in his home. We have all lost a great leader, and I can only image how difficult it must be for those who were close to him.
Read this book, learn the lessons of doing thing the Southwest Airlines way. The concepts apply to any industry, but how those concept are manifest will be unique to each company.