Interesting how much I tend to focus on culture and team building both in my blog posts as well as at Culver’s.  The entire debacle at United Airlines is proof positive that the leaders in any company are the ones that must drive the culture.  If the leaders of United drove a positive, guest focused culture these situations this past week would have never happened.  The two main situations were the doctor that got dragged out of the plane because an employee needed the seat and also the couple on their way to a wedding that moved into open seats that were just a little larger.  Then you have the CEO after seeing the online video have the audacity to say that the doctor was unruly so that is why they took him off the plane.  If this is the attitude of the CEO it is not surprising that the rest of the team follows his lead.  I guess no one reminded United lately that they are really in the people business, not the airline business.  This is why some may argue that Southwest has become the gold standard in customer relations.  Remember as leaders our team members will watch and listen to how we treat our guests and they will follow our lead.    As Jon Gordon points out in his new book “The Power of Positive Leadership”, once you know what you stand for decisions are easy to make. 

  • Another related point to remember is that we are always on stage.  In the day of social media and smart phones chances are good that someone is watching you.  Not only other team members, but other guests will also watch how you handle certain situations.  Not only situations with other guests but guests will even comment on how we interact with team members.  In a small confined area like a restaurant chances are good that someone can hear or see you at any given time.  People tend to make most decisions based on emotion which can help or hurt us as a company.  If we can build the relationship and have a positive emotion associated with our business they will become loyal, raving fans. 
  • The actions of United also shows us that merely having a great mission statement isn’t worth anything if your company doesn’t live and breathe its mission statement.  “Fly the Friendly Skies” is the United slogan.  What does this exactly mean?  The United Airlines skies don’t seem very friendly these days.  If United lived and breathed this slogan, the CEO would have come out and condemned the actions taken by the crew and made immediate change.  Remember our mission statement, every guest that chooses Culver’s leaves happy.  When making a decision in the heat of the moment we need to ask ourselves if what we are doing or saying will help us achieve this goal.  We also need to remember that my guest is anyone that isn’t me.    
  • In closing we need to remember that there are three basic things that every customer of any business wants.
    • 1.  The items / service to be defect free.  In our case complete and accurate.  In the case of an airline they want the plane and luggage to go where they paid for it to go.
    • 2.  They want this in timely manner.  If it will be late people want to know as soon as possible that it will be late.  In our case this is our speed of service.  In the case of an airline they want to arrive on time and not be delayed.
    • 3.  They want people to be nice.  In both cases this means that they want to have a pleasant interaction with the company.  People want to do business with companies that they know, like and trust. 
  • It is our responsibility as leaders of our company to make sure that we provide a culture that can achieve the three items listed above.  Remember that our goal is to create loyal, raving fans every single day!  We cannot simply talk about culture, we must act accordingly. 

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