How do your Customers rate your Customer Service?

A travel story that could have turned 100 plus tired and frustrated customers into a nightmare for Southwest Airlines. Blogging, emailing, 1-2-1’s throughout the week on how bad their service is/was…all turned around by an email that was there in the morning before I could go viral.


From: Ed Stillman []
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 8:44 PM
To: ‘Ed Stillman’
Subject: FW: Your February 28 Flight

In flying back from San Diego on Monday afternoon, Southwest Airlines had a mechanical and we had to change planes. Arrived home after midnight and found the below email in my inbox when I woke up Tuesday morning. Look at the department… Proactive Customer Service Communications. Before I could tell my return travel story to a dozen or more connections this week, I’m telling everyone how great Southwest Airlines customer service is? 

As it turned out the voucher was for $100 on a $400 ticket, yet I don’t think as a customer it’s the value of the voucher as much as it is the promptness and attitude this carrier has towards it customer. I have a choice in flying and my sense is so do your customers have a choice with your product or service?


—– Original Message —–
From: Southwest Airlines Proactive Communications
Sent: Tuesday, March 01, 2011 4:59 PM
Subject: Your February 28 Flight


Greetings from Southwest Airlines:

On behalf of Southwest Airlines, I wholeheartedly apologize for the delayed departure of your February 28 flight from San Diego. Disruptions are frustrating and I’m very sorry for any subsequent inconvenience to your plans yesterday. Naturally, we want to provide you with a better travel experience. In this spirit, I’m sending a LUV Voucher* (separately, but to the same e-mail address) as a gesture of goodwill that can be applied toward the purchase of a future Southwest reservation. I hope you will give us another opportunity to provide you with timelier trips—you can be sure that we are looking forward to seeing you again real soon.


Adrienne Yurdyga

**Your Southwest Airlines LUV Voucher will arrive within the next seven days to this same e-mail address. Please adjust your spam blockers/filters to enable your computer to receive this voucher.

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Forward Facing Dashboards

Forward Facing Dashboards (FFD)…

Start with measureable weekly activities according to Dan Barnett, CEO and Owner of The Primavera Company. His workshop on Make or Break Execution: The Core of Success starts with the question “What causes your sales to happen?” After a 30 year career with Pillsbury, Nestle and Vistage International, Barnett is passionate that you need to find the one thing that has to be done extraordinarily well in order to achieve your vision. He states …”…you are what you tolerate!” As owner, president or CEO, you are where you are to set expectations, right. Ask yourself “…are you moving toward your vision at the pace you want?” Have you and your management team figured out “what matters most”! If you don’t like your answers, than focus on what your make or break is and set up KPIs that focus on what matters most.

As for the value chain concept, Barnett suggests you work on 1st things 1st and 2nd things never. Your CFO or accounting team can provide you all the rear view mirror charts and graphs (Revenue, Gross Margin or EBITDA, Acct’s Receivable,) you want yet windshield or forward facing KPIs are a lot harder to select and prioritize. FFD targets that are measured weekly can be monitored and corrected quicker than monthly or quarterly. A 2% correction at the weekly meeting is a lot easier and doable than that same correction after a month. Think about the loss of revenue and profit because it took 3 weeks to determine what was broken? Plus how much easier would it be to course correct a little vs. a lot? Think about the benefit of weekly meetings and having those in charge report out on those make or break activities. Set weekly and 13 week or quarterly targets that reach and exceed your annual goals. Spend 30 minutes reporting out weekly performance. Hold your people accountable and top level management should be attending this weekly Forward Facing Dashboard (30 minute) Meeting (FFDM). This is a report out meeting and not one that gets bogged down with issues, explanations or finger pointing.

At the end of that meeting suggest that those behind their plan, name them, should stay for the Rapid Action Team Meeting (RATM) that should follow immediately afterward. Invite others that feel they have something to contribute. The concept is immediate course correction. Yes, 30 minutes or less is desirable. At the RATM, push for fresh thinking, innovation towards those that are behind in their results, what resources are needed, etc. End with individual actions required by the next meeting to turn the short fall around.

Dashboards start out as simple excel spreadsheets showing activity results against plan. Weeks listed vertically and actions or events listed horizontally. Activities, units, dollars against plan should be targeted. In time Charts and graphs will add to the story as you create traction with this concept.

Barnett wraps up his workshop by saying No Vision too Distant – No Detail too Small. My members and guests gave Dan a 4.8 rating out of 5 in both content and delivery. Now the challenge is what are they going to do different?

  • 1st is to rethink their Vision Statement. Possible have a simple slogan or target for employees, such as 30/30 which means 30% growth and 30% profit.
  • 2nd is determine what drives your sales
  • Select several activities that drives sales and drill down to create weekly measurements
  • Schedule your Forward Facing Dashboard Meeting – weekly for 30 minutes
  • Start your Rapid Action Team Meeting immediately after your FFDM

Now my challenge to you…when are you going to schedule your 1st Forward Facing Dashboard Meeting?

What does your credit worthy index look like?

Sunday’s WSJ Small Business Section had an interesting article update on banks willingness to loan money to small and mid size businesses.

As a business owner, president or CEO, what is your personal relationship with your banker? When asked by friends, whose’s your banker, do you respond with a name of a bank or your actual banker or trusted advisor from your local branch of a national firm or your regional bank advisor?

Need a SBA loan or your LOC increased? Do you schedule monthly phone calls or quarterly “sit down” reviews with your banker? Are your key performance indicators (KPI’s) or rearview and dashboard snapshots meaningful and telling on the financial health of your business.

In keeping with my recent “Kick Starting 2011” theme, are you setting you and your company up for success? Please look into a local peer group, leadership lab or advisory board that provides you monthly support and creates a honest sharing, safe place to discuss the “undiscussable’s” with other like minded business owners. It may be one of your most meaningful decisions you will make in 2011.