"Who comes first? The employees, customers, or shareholders? That's never been an issue to me. The employees come first. If they're happy, satisfied, dedicated, and energetic, then they'll take real good care of the customers. When the customers are happy, they come back. And that makes the shareholders happy." - Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines (Kreitner 70).
This approach to running a business surprised me. For as long as I can remember, the media and marketers have taught us to believe that the "customer is always right." It never occurred to me to think outside the box and dig deeper for a more permanent solution to keep the customers happy.
In the article, "Southwest Airlines: Lessons in Loyalty," D'Aurizio focuses on the uniqueness that separates the airline company from its competitors. A key piece to their success is te company's former Chairman, Herb Kelleher, who built a culture based on the old saying, "Take care of your staff, and they will take care of the patients" (D'Aurizio). Kelleher created a culture that could be adopted by future leaders of the airline. Today, Southwest Airline proudly boasts that it has had the fewest customer complaints in 18 years in a row, 31 consecutive profitable years, and an average of less than 10% employee turnover rate (D'Aurizio). To make a lasting difference, you have to change the structure to change the behavior.
Source: D'Aurizio, Patricia. "Southwest Airlines: Lessons in Loyalty." Nursing Economic$ Nov. 2008: 389+. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 1 Feb. 2010.