The airline passenger was upset with the flight crew. So she wrote a letter to the CEO to inform him she did not approve of how the crew was making jokes while doing the pre-flight safety checks.
In her letter to the CEO, she made clear that security announcements ought to be taken serious because of how important they were.
As it turns out, the passenger that wrote the letter was a frequent flyer of the airline. Surely a customer the airline wants to keep. Right? So how did the CEO respond?
“We’ll miss you” and added, “Rest assured that this company, like all good airlines, take safety very, very seriously.”
Most CEOs would have probably sent an apology letter saying things like it was not their intention to offend her; he’d look into to the matter; they value her opinion and appreciate her business. But not Southwest airline’s CEO.
What Can We Learn From The CEO’s Response?
There are many lessons in the Southwest story we can glean and apply to our practices. However, among the most valuable lesson for me, is the importance of having a set of defined core values.
Why Are Core Values Important?
Core values are used to establish a company’s guiding principles. They serve the distinct purpose of determining behavior and action.
Without core values, employees do not know what is right from wrong. Therefore, they have no choice but to make decisions based on their values. Which, of course, may or may not align with the company’s values.
However, when a business establishes them, they assist in determining the right path. Moreover, they give employees a reference in fulfilling business goals.
Southwest Airline’s Core Value
Embedded into Southwest’s company culture, is a set of core values. Here is how they define it for their employees:
We believe in Living the Southwest Way, which is to have a Warrior Spirit, a Servant’s Heart, and a Fun-LUVing Attitude.
For Southwest, working hard and playing harder is one of the company’s guiding principle. Fun is part of what the airline is all about. That is why the CEO did not apologize on behalf of the employees. The employees were embracing one of the company’s unwavering value.
Core Value For Salud Pediatrics
One of our practice’s cornerstone principles is profitability. This may seem obvious or inherent knowledge considering our practice is a small business.
But for us, profit is a core value because our financial gains are the driving force behind our ability to fulfill our mission to advocate and care for children in our community.
In other words, profitability is essential to our ability to provide health care services. Without it, we would not be able to stay open. Thus profitability is a responsibility to the community we serve, not merely a requirement for our business.
Prepared To Lose A Patient
Recently, a parent from our practice questioned our policy that requires patients to leave a credit card on file with our practice.
After explaining the reason for the policy and addressing her concerns about identity theft, the mom was still apprehensive.
I told her that her concerns were legitimate and that I understood where she was coming from, but that the policy was non-negotiable. I explained to mom that we felt so strong about the importance of the credit card policy, that we were willing to lose her family as patients.
Policies & Procedures vs. Core Values
We all have rules in place. Even Southwest, with their FUN-Luving attitude, has them. Going through the pre-flight safety announcements is one of many, I’m sure.
Having systems in place ensure efficiency and safety, among other things. But It is impossible to come up with a scheme for every single potential situation. There will always be situations that fall outside of the “policy.”
Core values, however, can be used in situations that fall outside the parameters of policies and procedures.
Does your practice have a core value statement?
If so, what does it say? Are you prepared to lose patients over it?
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