I have just finished a second reading of the book 212 The Extra Degree by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson. In their book, the authors share the story of Jan Carlzon, who in 1981 was named the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines System. His company was in trouble. They had just been ranked by a consumer poll as the worst airline in the world. Last in service, last in dependability, and last in profits as a percentage of sales. (Hopefully there are no parallels between your company and Jan Carlzon’s situation). The good news is that one year later, in the same poll, they were ranked number one in all three categories. Here is how that happened.
Carlzon had decided to focus on what he thought was their most critical issue: serving the customer. He wanted to keep it simple: identify every contact between the customer and the employee and treat that contact as a moment of truth. He set out to let his people know the importance of that sacred moment where they interacted with their customer. This included everyone: the airline captain, the ticket agent, the baggage handler, and the flight attendant. “Every moment, every contact,” he said, “must be as pleasant and as memorable as possible”. Carlzon determined that he had approximately ten million customers each year, and on average, each customer made contact with five of his people for approximately 15 seconds at a time. Carlzon felt that what happened in these contacts would determine the fate of his company.
He set out to share his vision with his twenty thousand employees. He knew the key was to empower the front line – to let them make the decisions and take action, because to the customer, they were Scandinavian Airlines during those 15 seconds. He now had twenty thousand people who were energized and ready to go because they focused on one very important thing: making every moment count!
The reality is that all of us are dependent upon our customers for our livelihood. For that reason and many others, relationships and every interaction matters. What would happen if you empowered your people to meet the needs of your customer? What if that became your primary focus? Research shows that you would create a loyal customer base that gladly became your marketing and advertising arm by creating positive word of mouth.
There are likely many things you would like to change or tweak about your business and/or personal life, but trying to change everything at one time is a guaranteed recipe for frustration and failure. Let me challenge you to focus on one thing and change it incrementally by focusing on it each day. Just think, at 211 degrees, water is just hot. At 212, it begins to boil and to produce steam that can move a locomotive. One degree of change makes a world of difference. If you need a reminder of the power of incremental change, read or reread the book- 212 The Extra Degree, by Sam Parker and MAC Anderson. The WFCA exists to ensure your success and profitability. We welcome the opportunity to partner with you by providing resources that allow you to change for the better.