“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
You may have heard this quote before. However, it deserves our attention another time. This can apply to how employers treat their team as well as how everyone in the company interacts with your clients.
Like carpet cleaners, airline employees are working with the public every day. Some examples from Southwest Airlines can suggest new ways of looking at how you do business.
Southwest Airlines people are known to be happy campers, often while making less money than they could make at another airline. Herb Kelleher, the founder and former CEO of Southwest airlines was famous for his respect towards his employees. Among many other things, he worked on Thanksgiving, loading bags on planes, so one or two ramp people could have the day off. 
Rod Jones, assistant chief pilot, recalls a captain who left the gate with a senior citizen who had boarded the wrong plane. The customer was confused and very upset. Southwest asks pilots not to go back to the gate. In this case, the captain was concerned about the customer’s well-being. “So he adapted to the situation,” says Jones. He came back in to the gate, deplaned the customer, pushed back out and gave us an “irregularity” report. Even though he broke the rules, he used his judgment and did what he thought was best. And we said, “Attaboy!” 
Colleen Barrett, Kelleher’s main assistant, was concerned about a customer service agent who, recently, had gotten less than glowing reports, when she usually was highly rated. Barrett called her into her office and asked, “Is everything okay?” At that point, the employee started to cry and then went on to describe a difficult divorce, a custody battle over a 3 year old son, and an $1,800 debt for legal fees. Barrett listened and consoled her. A few hours later the employee received an envelope with $1,800 cash in it. There was no note. It simply had the employees name written on it, in Barrett’s hand writing. More than 7 years later (at the book’s publication) this person remains one of Southwest’s true zealots and her responsibilities have been expanded. She says, “At what other company could you walk in thinking you’re fired and walk out feeling loved, listened to and really cared about?” 
Make your employees feel like a, “somebody”, at every opportunity, not always by giving them money, make them feel important and they will think more about what they can do for you and your company.
By Dennis Klager, industry trainer
   Kevin & Jackie Freiberg NUTS! Southwest Airlines Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success (New York: Broadway Books, 1998)
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