Rule #1: It Starts At The Top
Rule #1 for creating a service culture or any culture for that matter
is this: It starts at the top. It starts in the head and the heart of the
leader and is passed on from one team member to the next. There is no other
way it can happen.
“You can’t teach culture. You have to live it. You have to experience
it. You have to share it. You have to show it.” These are words from Brent
Harris, a top executive for Nordstrom, the retail chain known for legendary
service. To change any culture, in any company, the people at the top have to
live it! Because words without deeds mean nothing!
When Dave Neeleman started the airline JetBlue, he knew the
importance of leading from the front and letting his actions speak louder
than words. His mission was to create a customer service culture, and he knew
all eyes would be watching. A few years ago, I read a story in INC.
written by Norm Brodsky. In it, Brodsky wrote about being
on a JetBlue flight when Neeleman was on board. As we were buckling up to
take off, Neeleman stood up and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Dave Neeleman,
the CEO of JetBlue. I’m here to serve you today and I’m looking forward to
meeting every one of you before we land.” As he was handing out snack
baskets he would stop to chat with everyone. When he came to me, I told him I
thought it was a great idea to service his customers first-hand, and asked
him how often he did it. Expecting him to say once or twice a year, he said,
“Not often enough … I get to do it about once a month.”
Out of curiosity, I watched him interact with other passengers. In
several instances, I saw him taking notes and listening intently to what
passengers were saying. In a few instances when he couldn’t answer the
question, I watched him take a business card and say, “Someone will be in
touch with you in the next 24 hours.” Even at the end of the flight, there
was Neeleman, in his blue apron, leading the charge collecting the trash from
the seat pockets.