Keeping it simple…

The Wharton School of Business online newsletter,, had an excellent discussion (and video interview) with Colleen Barrett, CEO of Southwest Airlines. The article, “Southwest Airlines’ Colleen Barrett Flies High on Fuel Hedging and ‘Servant Leadership“, described what makes Southwest a “one of a kind” organization and the only domestic airline that can boast posting profits for 35 consecutive years – WOW!

Let me start by saying I LOVE Southwest Airlines – not just as an airline but for who they are and what they stand for.  I am very passionate about customer experiences and I don’t understand why customers have to put up with bad ones.  One of my key missions is to help organizations figure out how to deliver them consistently and repeatedly and earn the customers TRUST and LOYALTY.  Because of this passion, Southwest Airlines is one of those rare companies that does this day in and day out and as such delivers consistent and repeated profitability to their shareholders – you just have to flat out respect that.

They don’t do it with smoke and mirrors either – they do it with plain old transparency and putting all their cards on the table for the customer.  Their Mission Statement is SIMPLE and one that everyone gets, its to “Follow the Golden Rule — to treat people the way that you want to be treated, and pretty much everything will fall into place.”  Don’t you love it – simple and easy yet extremely powerful and executable.  This is the way every organization should function in my opinion – keep things simple so everyone, from the board room to the factory floor gets what you are about and what their job is in serving the customer.

Customer Service is Colleen’s passion.  She goes on to say that 85% of her job is “dealing with worker issues – what she called “pro-active customer service to our employees”.  She states that “the underlying idea that a happy and motivated workforce will essentially extend that goodwill to Southwest’s customers. When we have employees who have a problem, or have employees who see a passenger having a problem, we adopt them, and we really work hard to try to make something optimistic come out of whatever the situation is, to try to make people feel good whatever the dilemma is that they’re dealing with.” Simple and straightforward and everyone gets it.

The article and online interview are something in would encourage you to read and view – it is inspiring and emotionally uplifting to any business of any size.  Colleen isn’t a Harvard MBA, she is a down home, speak and act from the heart type of person that can instill Herb Keller’s passion from when he started Southwest to all their employees and customers.  Truly a case study any university should analyze.  Way to go Colleen and Southwest Airlines – keep up the great work!!  Sometimes Simple really is Better.


Blaine Millet

Customer Experiences Inc.
View Blaine Millet's profile on LinkedIn

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One Response to Keeping it simple…
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