Corporate Culture and Customer Service Part 2


corporate-culture-2Yesterday we published a blog posting regarding corporate culture and customer service.

One of our readers was kind enough to send us this story from an article in the Harvard Business Review.

It was so revealing about how corporate culture affects behavior, that we wanted to share it with you.

As an example of a company successfully offering humanity, consider this story. Mark Dickinson was trying to catch a flight after receiving the terrible news that his grandson had died.

But when he arrived at LAX, two hours ahead of his departure time, and saw the length of the lines, he realized he’d never make it through security in time.  No one was willing to make an exception to the rules and let him jump the line, so he endured the wait and, sure enough, arrived at the gate 12 minutes after departure time.

But there stood the pilot, who greeted him as he came running up, shoeless. An agent at the Southwest counter must have believed his plight and passed the word, because the pilot had held the plane. He told Dickinson: “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you.”

Of course the decision was the right one, but it was one that only a human could make-and only would make in an organization that didn’t punish it.

The key here is that the pilot had the confidence that, even in an organization highly focused on achieving timely departures, he would not likely be penalized for making the judgment call.  And how did he have that confidence?

Because he knew it was consistent with Southwest’s well established values, chief among them the insistence on doing the right thing for the customer. The pilot’s act of humanity was enabled by a kind of “operating system” laid down by management of the company.

Contrast this to our earlier story. And “Thank You” to our reader for sharing it.