- On a trip to Acadia National Park, we dropped off a lightweight jacket to be fixed at L.L. Bean's main (Maine?) store in Freeport. When we returned to the store on the way back home, they had misplaced it. It took several weeks to find the one that was being fixed. Without hesitation, they suggested that we keep the replacement jacket and shipped back the one being repaired.
- On a Southwest flight from Newark to Denver, bad weather caused a 2 1/2-hour ground stop after we had taxied to the runway for takeoff. The airline gave all passengers vouchers for $75 toward a future flight.
- On a Continental (now United) flight home from San Francisco to Newark, my daughter and I were on the security line when we noticed a flight crew near us. When I suggested that they go ahead of us, they were both pleased and gracious. What topped it off was that just before we landed, one of the flight attendants came over and gave my daughter a set of airline wings, with an extra set for our other daughter, who was slightly ahead of us with my wife. What we didn't know was that the flight crew we were letting get ahead of us was actually our flight crew. Not only was this a terrific lesson in manners and courtesy for our kids, but it created a very favorable impression of the airline employees on a human level.
- Returns at Kohl's generally take no more than a minute or two. Other places require much more detail for what should be a simple transaction.
- Most electronics stores over the years implemented an approach that discouraged testing out the equipment. Apple, of course, turned the retail world upside-down by setting up its Macs, iPhones, and iPads to be tried out in stores, with no pressure to leave. For a company that once was on the brink of going out of business, it's amazing to see the transformation to the leading global brand.
- With millions of guests visiting its Florida theme parks every year, Disney had to come up with efficient ways to move large numbers of people and still keep them happy. The result was the creation of Magical Express. Its key elements include allowing visitors to tag their luggage at their home airport and then directing it straight through to one of Disney's own hotels. Passengers connect with a free shuttle bus at Orlando International Airport. They reconnect with their luggage in their hotel room instead of retrieving it at the airport luggage carousel. Imagine a more pleasant travel experience.
What these examples have in common is the relentless focus on the customer, and perhaps more so, respect for the customer. It is less about the customer always being right, and more about understanding that the customer is the reason those companies remain in business. If these companies always keep in mind solutions that allow them to meet their business objectives, while keeping customers top of mind, more often than not this will result in a win-win situation.