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Success Newsletters

Volume 5, Number 4 – July-August, 2005 Issue

In this Edition
1. Service Feeds Success – An Airline Story
2. A Pet Peeve about being Responsive
3. Quotes
4. Recommended Reading

Service Feeds Success – An Airline Story
As a professional speaker I find myself flying quite frequently and am regularly at airports. Like many frequent flyers, I try to stick to one particular airline or airline association; frequent flyer points do generate loyalty. In my case, I try to stick to Air Canada or its Star Alliance partner airlines. This will generally get me anywhere I want to go with a convenient routing and schedule. However, I fly with these airlines because of convenience not necessary always by choice. The service is okay, but nothing special. Do I feel like I am a valued customer? Not really. The staff is pleasant, usually. They are also occasionally rude and sometimes surly, but rarely memorable.

Recently, however, I had the pleasure to experience airline service the way it is supposed to be.

I was flying to speak for a client in Kelowna, British Columbia; not the easiest location to get to from my base in Toronto. I could not get a direct flight on any of the airlines in the Star Alliance (remember my points). Because of this I decided to fly with West Jet, an up and coming newish airline in Canada. They are considered a lower-cost airline, but I did not choose them for price but for convenience as they had a direct flight from Toronto to Kelowna. I had heard a lot about West Jet over the years in the Canadian press and media and from friends who had flown with them about how they were changing the face of air travel in Canada. I have to admit I was quite curious about what the experience would be like as I approached the airport.

From the moment I walked up to the West Jet Counter at Toronto International Airport to check in for my flight my experience began. Standing in front of me at the ticket counter was a West Jet employee in a tee shirt and shorts, a cowboy hat and a friendly smile, and this was 5.30 in the morning!!! The other counters were manned with similarly dressed and equally as friendly people. As I boarded the plane, the ticket agent used my first name and welcomed me on board again with a big genuine smile. On board I was surprised to find no business class seating, but impressed to find that everyone had the same high quality leather seats, expansive legroom and satellite TV!!!

Then the fun really began. The announcements by the flight crew and captain were hilarious, they had everybody laughing. They made a point of introducing each member of the team to the passengers – almost like a team building session, and the passengers were part of the team. Throughout the flight the service was friendly and efficient, and I do have to say that with the satellite TV the flight went quite fast. I believe, frequent flyer points or not, West Jet may have found itself another loyal customer.

West Jet flew 7.8 million passengers within Canada and the US in 2004 and is expanding its destinations and availability of flights. With this, its profile is increasing, and they are very well positioned for future success in Canada and beyond. Not bad for an airline that started in 1996 by four Calgary entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity to provide low-cost travel across western Canada.

Their corporate culture is all about having fun and smiling. They do the little things right, like treating their “guests”, as they call their passengers, well and with respect. The customer service is exceptional and consistent. Everybody is “on” and helpful at all times, and it does not get much better than that. They walk their talk by delivering consistently on that promise.

West Jet is not unique in the culture they are trying to build. It parallels to a certain degree the culture and reputation of Southwest Airlines in the US (just with more amenities) and Virgin Atlantic based out of the UK. What does this say about the importance of culture, fun, and serving the client when these airlines make a profit, are successful and appear to be thriving in a highly competitive industry where airlines are regularly filing for bankruptcy protection?

How can you apply West Jet’s simple but effective philosophy to your business? It is not rocket science, and not something new. Give exceptional customer service, treat people like you would like to be treated, always be on time with your delivery, smile, have fun, give that little bit extra and get your employees thinking about the business as though it were their own.

The final announcement as we were getting off the plane was the usual “Thanks for flying with us,” but with a little entrepreneurial twist: ”Nobody values you or your life more than West Jet. We look forward to seeing you again real soon”….and they will…

A PET PEEVE ABOUT RESPONSIVENESS?
This is not so much a pet peeve as a rant.

In my years in sales I have learned the importance of follow-up. I do it diligently, every day no matter where I am or what I am doing, I find the time to respond to any calls or emails. If someone calls me in my office for general information or to check if I am available for a specific date, or for whatever reason, I give each of these people the same level of courtesy, AND, I get back to them always within a couple of hours at the latest. When someone emails me, I respond, and relatively quickly – frequently within hours especially now that I am connected with my Treo 600 Mobile which allows me to make calls and check email when I am on the road. I stay connected. My wife says I am a bit obsessive, but for me it is a sign of respect for the individual who has contacted me.

Maybe because I am so diligent (or obsessive) I notice when other people aren’t. I have done some research and found out some interesting data. Roughly 85 % of people do not respond to messages from people if they do not know specifically why they are calling or know but do not have an immediate need for what the individual is calling about. What this looks like is this: You go to a conference or networking event and meet some interesting people. You give Joe your telephone number and say “Joe, call me. We should talk about how we can work together on something.” Joe is a diligent guy and calls you the following day. If he gets your voice mail, according to the statistics 85% of you will not call him back…at least not right away. After all, you hadn’t expected him to call so fast. Well friends, in my humble opinion that is disrespectful, rude and unprofessional.

Get in to the habit of responding to messages in a timely and efficient manner. We are all busy, so that does not cut it as an excuse. I believe we always find the time for things that are important to us. People will respect you for getting back to them. It will stand you out from the pack and position you as a person someone can depend on, a true professional in every sense of the word, and trust me people will remember you and want to do business with you because of these factors. Do not underestimate their importance.

QUOTES

“You may delay, but time will not” Benjamin Franklin

“People do not become successful in spite of their challenges—People become successful because of their challenges” Jerry Meadows

“A person is not old until regrets take the place of dreams” John Barrymore

RECOMMENDED READING

Winning by Jack Welch with Suzy Welch
I am a big fan of Jack Welch. Whether you like all of his leadership philosophies or not, you have to admit that he has influenced a lot of organizations in some way and he has been very successful. In my opinion the guy is a genius, I like his candor. In this book, Jack (and his new wife Suzy) shares his perspective about pretty much any business issue or principle you may face, and he does so in plain English so everybody can understand. Do yourself a favor, if you want to be more successful in business, buy this book. Jack Welch shares his wisdom, expertise and you will not fail to be effected by the man’s passion and energy.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The subtitle of this book by best selling author Malcolm Gladwell is “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.” This is a fascinating book. I did not find it an easy read but I stuck with it, and in the end enjoyed it and learned some interesting things about selling products and disseminating ideas. The author has also gone into great detail with his research and stating facts.

101 Poems to get you through the day ( and night ) by Daisy Goodwin
I recently picked up this attractive looking small hardback book at (where else?) an airport book store!! I found it great reading. Poetry is very therapeutic to me and the different poems selected by the author fit each mood and situation we might find ourselves in. I carry it with me now on all my trips and it has become a valuable and welcome travel companion for me.

Copyright
Permission is granted to reproduce this newsletter in whole or in part provided the following byline below appears along with the article and that a copy is sent to me after publication. Thank you: To check previous issues for publication, please go to www.cmarcus.com and click on articles/newsletters.

Charles Marcus is an international motivational speaker. To subscribe to his FREE success newsletter, please send an email to subscribe@cmarcus.com. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Charles, his book and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 905-847-2323. Toll-Free in North America at 1-800-837-0629, or visit his website: www.cmarcus.com

Date Added: July 30, 2005 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Newsletters



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