Strategy

What if the Customer is Wrong?

It was a drizzly day at the Dallas airport. The last man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight did little to hide his frustration with the seating process, elbowing his way across a row to the last open seat. In the process he left an oversize suitcase sticking out of the luggage compartment.

A flight attendant approached the man to suggest checking his bag. The suggestion stirred a debate that escalated until the troubled passenger punched the flight attendant, laying him out across a row of seats.

Was that customer “always right?” The answer is obviously “no.” It’s a scenario often described by former Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher to prove the point that the customer is NOT always right.

Other companies including Disney have followed in Southwest’s footsteps, acknowledging that the customer might be wrong. The result is a better, safer work environment for employees who, in turn, can create a great experience for the customers who ARE right, and gracious accommodations for the guests who aren’t.

Christian

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