Every business is a service business.

We apply the tools that make service businesses stronger through better strategy, innovation, marketing and day-to-day management.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

The Importance of the Professors at Southwest U

The Southwest agent I spoke with at check-in today had just returned from a week’s worth of training in Dallas.

I asked her (and her more experienced peer also helping me) about the LUV-fest. Specifically, what immersion into the Southwest culture looked like.

Interestingly, they didn’t give much detail about the training itself, mentioning only that the environment was fun but VERY fast paced. What they did go into detail about was the role that leadership played in their indoctrination. Specifically, that Herb and Gary were all over the training sessions, and that Colleen was present as well. Even more interesting was that they mentioned Founder Herb Kelleher, CEO Gary Kelly and former President Colleen Barrett by first name, as though there was no doubt that I would know exactly who they were talking about – which, of course, was a correct assumption.

The agent that has seen more service also mentioned that she had multiple instances where Herb and Gary had hopped behind the agent desk to help move luggage at check-in and board passengers at the gate.

Service businesses are distinct from their product counterparts because they are fundamentally represented by people, working with a process and supported by technology, to serve other people.

In no other business are the business aspects of customer orientation, quality and engagement of the employee workforce as important.

Southwest does this as well as anyone in a big company setting, and it starts with the way senior leaders approach the business and the employees. Watching Colleen speak on servant leadership, it is no wonder that at any given time, Southwest has 10,000 pilot resumes on file.

They have the best employees because good people want to work there. Good people perpetuate good service, leading to good performance, which attracts more good people.

Easy, right?

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