Though it has been around for many years and probably familiar to many of you, last night I saw the inspirational video “212 Degrees – The Extra Degree” for the first time at a presentation at my son’s high school. The primary message of the video is that seemingly small things can make tremendous differences, in business and in life. This got me to thinking about how my own attitudes, efforts, and passions affect my devotion to my work and my business success, which led me to thinking about how appropriately the video and its message can ultimately be tied to any company’s customer or client loyalty success.
At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive. One extra degree…makes all the difference. And, the one extra degree of effort in business and in life…separates the good from the great!
The average margin of victory for the last 25 years in all major [golf] tournaments combined was less than three strokes. The margin of victory between an Olympic Gold Medal and no medal at all is extremely small. In the 2004 men’s 800m race, the margin of victory was .71 seconds. At the Indy 500, the average margin of victory for the past 10 years has been 1.54 seconds. On average, the winner took home $1,278,813, the second place prize was $621,321—a difference of $657,492.
It’s your life. You are responsible for your results. It’s time to turn up the heat. To get what we’ve never had, we must do what we’ve never done.
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- 212 degrees Attitude: The only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe it is possible.
- 212 degrees Kindness: “It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life…we can never help another without helping ourselves.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- 212 degrees Belief: Belief fuels enthusiasm, and enthusiasm explodes into passion. It fires our souls and lifts our spirits.
- 212 degrees Focus: Having a simple, clearly defined goal can capture the imagination and inspire passion. It can cut through the fog like a beacon in the night.
- 212 degrees Perseverance: “Perseverance is not a long race; It is many short races, one after another.” (Walter Elliott)
You are now aware. You now have a target for everything you do.
Customer Service, Customer Loyalty, and a Spirit of Success
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service, delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. Accordingly, Southwest Airlines is the 2011 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty award winner among airlines, and is among the list of J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champions.
Southwest Airlines is used as an example for the achievement of business success and customer loyalty as an industry leader in customer service in the book 212 Service: The 10 Rules for Creating a Service Culture (Mac Anderson, 2011), which highlights the leadership philosophy of Herb Kelleher, founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines: “I always felt that our people came first. Some of the business schools regarded that as a conundrum. They would say: Which comes first, your people, your customers, or your shareholders? And I would say, it’s not a conundrum. Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they’ll treat the customers right, and the customers will come back, and that’ll make the shareholders happy.”
According to Friebergs.com, an Executive Coaching consulting group in San Diego, CA, the key to lifetime customer loyalty is creating a Spirit of Success. “Your major point of differentiation…is in the spirit and attitudes of the people who work for you. Competitors may be able to compete with you on price and model but it’s very difficult to compete with you on cost, quality, and service because all three depend on the commitment and enthusiasm of your people–spirit and attitude are extremely difficult to replicate!” Also referring to Southwest Airlines’ envied model for superior customer service, which results in high-level customer loyalty, Friebergs points out that people frequently ask Libby Sartain, Southwest’s VP of People, “How do you get your people to be so nice?” Libby says, “We don’t get our people to be anything, we just hire Nice People!”
Based on the customer loyalty success of Southwest Airlines, I believe that if you capture the message of the video and create a 212 Degree culture in your company, hire employees who aspire to live and achieve at 212 degrees, and then continually inspire those employees, you will reinforce your company goals and values for superior service to your customers/clients. The payoff will be increased customer loyalty to your company and your brand. Again, small things can make tremendous differences.