Southwest Airlines President Speaks on “Servant Leadership” & “Internal Customer Service”

Thanks to the magic of Twitter yesterday I came across this interview with the very unassuming president of Southwest Airlines, Colleen Barrett.

The interview is two years old but offers great insight into what makes Southwest a model of success in an industry that has so many of its competitors falling by the wayside or struggling to find a merger partner.

The key point in the interview, I believe, is when Barrett speaks about what I call “internal customer service.” Too many organizations focus on “external customer service” and don’t understand that employees who do not have a deep connection to their organization cannot provide excellent external customer service.


After watching the video it inspired me to create my “Champion Customer Service” model that I’ve been speaking about for years but never had a visual to show how it flows. This should make it pretty clear:


This model represents the direction of service in “champion organizations” that provides for “Champion Customer Service” of the external customers that generate the revenue necessary to sustain and grow a successful organization.

  1. It begins with a commitment to “internal customer service” whereby organization leaders create an environment in which internal service between employees is a priority.
  2. Happy employees serve customers happily and happy customers buy and return and refer others.
  3. This, in turn, makes for profitable, happy owners/shareholders, and
  4. Resources are reinvested back into the organization to continue to reinforce the model.

What do ya’ll think?