From Completing a Task to Creating an Experience

Not long ago I received a comment from a program participant stating, "I'm tired of hearing Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom, and Ritz Carlton examples in every customer service speech. Why do all speakers seem to highlight the same companies?"

The answer, of course, is that these companies consistently do the things that make them good examples! It's hard to argue with success and these as well as a few other companies have pretty good track records. Why not learn from what they've done to reach the point where they're regularly held up as examples of excellence?

This is all a build up to another Southwest Airlines story - without apology. Last Friday I was waiting to board a Southwest flight from Orlando to St. Louis. I observed the gate agent boarding the flight leaving before mine and noticed that as she took the passengers' boarding passes, she greeted every one of them by name. I mean every one of them. "Welcome aboard, Mr. Jones," "Hello Sarah," "How are you, Ms. Smith?" And she wasn't doing it in a mechanical manner, she was offering sincere greetings. Then she did the same thing when my flight was boarding.

It took no additional time, didn't cost a penny, but positively reflected on her and the Southwest Airlines brand. All it took was some initiative on the gate agent's part to do something people weren't expecting.

Her simple act of courtesy resulted in hundreds of customer smiles in the course of about fifteen-minutes. Talk about a positive cost-benefit ratio.

Take a look at those routine tasks in your organization and ask, "What can we do to turn those tasks into experiences?" Most of the time I believe you'll find the answers aren't rocket science; it's just about taking the time to ask the question and implement the answers.

So, why do I often use Southwest Airlines examples? Because they regularly turn tasks into experiences and have made the experience mindset a part of their culture. And now they fly more passengers than any U.S. airline. Not a bad track record to emulate.