Friday, September 17, 2004

A fantastically candid interview with the CEO of Jet Blue (an American low cost airline that started in 2000). A must read. There's lots of interesting things from the article I'd like to pick out but in the end I went with his comments on customer service (Jet Blue is employee centered and customer focused) because of it's apparent scarcity here in Germany:

"Let's just treat people nice. Sometimes people don't deserve to be treated nice. But let's just do it anyway, because that's just the way we want to do business. And so we talk a lot about that kind of stuff. "

In talking with a bunch of Germans on the subject I realize how different cultures can be. When I ask how German's can put up with such poor service, defined as employees being unresponsive, unhelpful and impolite to the point of berating customers at some times, they usually agree that it's not right but they'd rather the employee act like they feel and not "fake" nice towards the customer. They put a higher premium on having the employee act like they actually feel, even if it means treating you the customer with disdain. I guess the lack of a tipping culture (here in Germany tips range from 0 - 1 euro regardless of the size of bill) might have something to do with it.

The other day while at a burger joint on of my German friends was actually surprised at how nice the waitress was, almost to the point of suspicion. I am reminded every day here in Germany how badly Germany needs a customer service focus overhaul, for the company that's able to achieve it will go the spoils.


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