Ritz Carlton. Zappos. Starbucks. Nordstroms. Southwest Airlines.
These iconic brands are legendary largely for the outstanding customer service they provide.
That level of customer service is based upon a simple — but profound — leadership principle. And while the phrasing varies from one great organization to the next, the tenets of the principle don’t:
Hire smart people and relentlessly train them to the point that they are empowered to make decisions that may cost a few dollars in the short-term, but will build loyal flag-waving customers for a lifetime.
Just imagine if the gate agents for United Airlines in Chicago had been relentlessly trained and subsequently empowered by management to continue to sweeten the offer for passengers on their oversold flight to Louisville until they got four happy volunteers.
I highly doubt the offer would have exceeded $1200 in travel vouchers plus a guaranteed seat on the next flight before a swarm of passengers would have rung their call buttons to volunteer to deplane.
As it turned out, those Chicago gate agents were tasked with placing their own common sense and good judgment on hold to follow an insipid, short-sighted protocol that will likely cost United over a billion dollars in lost revenue, lawsuits, and negative PR.
ON POINT – Companies that inspire On Fire employee passion and performance are those that hire smart people, train them well, and then give them the autonomy to make decisions.