THIS IS ARGUABLY the most important text on how teams can and should be managed so as to deliver great customer service.
Author Jody Hoffer Gittell does a good job of explaining the specific practices Southwest has developed and maintains in order to consistently deliver an airline experience that’s way better than its competitors, and creates profit in an industry renown for delivering losses. The work is detailed, almost scholarly (yet very readable), and provides a blueprint for other organizations wishing to emulate Southwest’s success. I also found it a fascinating insight into the complexities of running an airline.
Don’t think for a moment, though, that by reading this book and implementing a few changes you’ll have your organization swinging. As you would expect, creating the exceptional requires more than a quick fix. If you have the will though, and the authority to implement change, I highly recommend developing a plan based on the ten principles outlined in the book, and listed below:
Ten Practices for Building High Performance Relationships:
Lead with credibility and caring
Invest in frontline leadership
Hire and train for relational competence
Use conflicts to build relationships
Bridge the work/family divide
Create boundary spanners
Measure performance broadly
Keep jobs flexible at the boundries
Make unions your partners, not adversaries
Build relationships with your suppliers
If you’ve never flown Southwest, or heard about their brand of what I call “real” service, here’s a couple videos to whet your appetite:
A great TV commercial (1 min) :
A Southwest flight attendant singing a custom version of Jingle Bells (45 sec):
An interview (10 min) with Rita Bailey, erstwhile director of Southwest’s “University for People”:
* * * * *
More good reading on the Resources Page.