I'm in the midst of a pile of research for a new body of work on the post-recessionary consumer.
In this process, I simply cannot believe the amount of re-cycling of old ideas is going on - the same concepts are being repeated in Web 2.0 format with ever more fancy new names; book designs that are ever more beautiful (thank you Creative Economy); and accompanied by slick videos that are easy to embed and syndicate.
One term that is rising to the fore in 2010 of all years is "Customer Centricity" as if the customer had just been discovered!! I can't disagree with the notion that success will only depend on selling something that the customer wishes to buy and that companies need to switch their focus from products to customer experience and support. I have always taken that as a given. Back in 2002 when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) was all the rage, I tried to identify why spending millions on software to continue to push products to people in a friendly way (ie the ability to insert a personal first name at the head of communications) wasn't working. At the time, Dancing with the Customer was our response. What I do take issue with is the way this most basic and obvious of concepts is being dressed up as new, exciting and so cool some 8-10 years later.
So in this context you you can imagine my relief in finding this short video clip of the co-founder of South West Airlines talk about their approach to customer care. Note: there's not a buzzword or piece of marketing jargon in the entire 3 minutes - just plain old common sense. For those of you who don't have time for the video, here's the essence. Be clear about who you are, what you stand for, hire the right people who align with those values and treat your employees in a way you would like them to treat your customers. Simple, eh?
“We don’t have any secrets; we are an open book. But every time these companies came in they would want to know ‘what are your programs?’ And I would say over and over—and you could see the shades go down because people didn’t buy it—we don’t have ‘programs’ it’s a way of life. It is who we are. We spend an incredible amount of time hiring the right people who want to do the right thing. But we don’t have programs for handling things.”