by Alicia Korten, CEO of The Culture Company
Last Friday, at the Arlington Chamber's Annual Meeting, I
was struck with the simplicity of the speaker's message. If you were there, perhaps you were too. Dr. Matthew Shank, president of Marymount University, laid out
a key to business success:
Love your staff
Love your customers
Love your community
And you will prosper
In my work transforming business culture, Shank's message is
one I'm hearing from many, sometimes surprising, quarters.
Video interview with Eileen Fisher's Director of Retail Stores on how staff happiness drives their customer service strategy.
I was just at a trade show for sports clubs–not exactly a
touchy feely bunch. Hotelier and keynote speaker Chip Conley's message: During the recession, his focus on staff
happiness caused his company Joie de Vivre to thrive while other boutique
It all starts with culture, he let the audience know. Great culture leads to happy staff. Happy staff leads to happy customers. And
happy customers are what make you thrive.
Among those that embrace the happiness advantage is
Southwest Airlines whose stock exchange ticker symbol is LUV. CEO Gary Kelly says their core value LUV is
the secret behind forty years of consecutive profitability.
At a recent conference I was at, Kelly shared a story to
shed light on how Southwest thrived during the recession while many airlines
were filing for bankruptcy.
While competitors were slicing and dicing flights to find
more ways to charge you fees, Southwest Airlines decided two bags fly free. What
was the impetus behind the decision?
Surprisingly, it was not happy customers. It was happy staff.
Southwest Airlines knows budget-conscious customers bring
bigger, more stuffable check on luggage to get around pesky baggage fees. And that means attendants lifting heavy bags
into overstuffed bins. It means delayed flights. And it means mad customers. Not a recipe for
When passengers were feeling the pinch of an industry
visited by Ebenezer Scrooge, Southwest shared the bags fly free LUV with
creative ads like this one.
Free bags served the company's core value: LUV. In CEO Gary
Kelly's words, "We put our employees first. If they are happy, the customers will be
Dr. Shank ended his keynote to the Arlington Chamber
inviting local businesses to "Get on the Love Train." His invitation
is a mark of the changing tide of business.
Alicia Korten is the
CEO of The Culture Company. She works with clients to unleash passion and
purpose in the workplace by building values-driven culture that inspires
employees and customers and grows profits. The Culture Company is a member of
the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.