More Than a Policy: Caring Companies Serve in the Moment

When we think of caring companies, tear-jerking P&G commercials come to mind. Or WestJet's viral Christmas video from a couple of years ago. Coco Cola's famous "Security Cameras" montage?

It is always wonderful when companies execute service projects or champion good causes for an advertisement. They definitely make us look at the world differently and want to be better. But I think there is a next level to caring that often companies miss.

Any company can plan and film a feel good commercial. But what companies actually make caring part of their make up rather than a policy stapled to their wall?

Let me share an true example: Peggy hopped a Southwest flight from Chicago to Columbus. As they were making their way down the runway, the airplane suddenly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate where Peggy was asked to step off the flight.

A Southwest employee handed Peggy a phone and she heard her husband tell her that their 24-year-old son had a serious accident and was in Denver in a coma. Peggy's phone was off in preparation for the flight and so the husband called Southwest to get the word to her.

Here's where Southwest proved itself as a caring company, not just a good company.

Immediately an employee told her that they had already transferred her to a direct flight to Denver. "They offered a private waiting area, rerouted my luggage, allowed me to board first, and packed a lunch for when I got off the plane in Denver. My luggage was delivered to where I was staying, and I even received a call from Southwest asking how my son was doing."

As I read this account, I was shocked. From a feel-good standpoint, they did a wonderful service for this poor mother. But from a business standpoint, I realized two things:

1. Southwest Airlines didn't "rise to the occasion" when their passenger had an emergency - they already had a system of caring in place and were ready to help.

2. Southwest employees were empowered enough to KNOW they could make last minute decisions to help this customer in the moment.

The above story happened in a matter of minutes - from the time Peggy got on the plane and turned off her phone to the time they were making their way down the runway. No time to transfer an employee's request up the long chain of command. No time to get approval from the financial department. No time to finagle a way to help her without spending too much money.

This isn't just good policy. This is a business built on empowering their employees to care.

I'm not an affiliate for Southwest, I promise, just simply a reader of an incredible story about a company that had their priorities straight. :) So I ask myself:

Do I have a business with a posted policy or innate system of caring? Are we set up in a way that when an opportunity to lift or serve others comes, we can respond instantly?

Destiny Yarbro

Toronto, Canada

5 Sept 2016

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