$0Today’s customer craves service so much, they’re willing to pay extra for it!$0$0If you don’t believe that, check out yesterday’s announcement that Southwest Airlines is going to be charging $10 more for the privilege of boarding at the head of the line. This is in addition to their “Business Select” fares where you get extra mileage points and a free drink. In other words, just to be in the initial boarding group will cost you an initial $10 — but means you will probably get a aisle or window seat.$0$0One analyst estimated that this charge could generate the airline $200,000,000 and may very well move Southwest Airlines back into the black for the 37th consecutive year. All from a simple $10 early boarding fee!$0$0Some organizations believe that improving their product is a way to provide customer service. They’ll examine the chemistry, engineering, manufacturing, features and benefits obsessively…yet spend a fractionof that time focusing on how to enhance how the customer “feels” when they do business with the organization.$0$0It’s obvious that visionary companies like Southwest continue to focus less on the product (the plane) and more on the people (the passengers). Meanwhile, consider what Starbucks is doing — adding product lines and having efficiency experts count the steps that baristas are taking — instead of making their shops smell more like coffee, like it used to.$0

$0A wild idea: What if there were two lines at Starbucks? If you had the Gold Card, you get in an express line — or you swipe your card as you enter the line, and your drink order is transmitted into the system. Then, one barista starts making your drink…while another calls you by name and makes certain it’s exactly what you want.$0$0Now, they’d be selling a lot more Gold Cards…and if they would start focusing more on the experience again, could re-establish themselves as a leader. It’s just a thought…$0
$0The primary point is this: Every business should take a look at how they can improve their bottom lineby improving the ability of their best customers to get to the front of the line.$0

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