Image courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In honor of Henry Ford’s birthday this week, I thought I’d share some of his quotes that inspire me as a leader – and that relate well to the world of customer experience.

Disclaimer (sorta): My dad worked for Ford Motor Company for 44 years; his brother worked for Ford for even longer! I’m a Ford girl. I strayed – once – but have since returned to the fold. My dad is happy.

Back to the quotes. I think they speak for themselves, but I’ve added commentary to a few of them.

Ford was an innovator and perhaps seems to have been a bit ahead of his time. He was inspirational, forward-thinking, and wise.

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.
I love this quote, for a variety of reasons. Stop talking about it; just do it.

Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.

Stay focused. Stay committed to your purpose. Distractions are toxic to the business.

Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.

The customer isn’t always right, but he is the customer.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

If you keep making the same mistakes, customers will lose patience, faith, and trust. Don’t.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said “Faster horses.”

True. Some innovation comes from the minds of the business, but some truly does come from asking customers. I will never discount the voice of the customer in product or service innovation.

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.

Common sense. Where has it gone?

It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.

While your competitors are still trying to figure it out, go make it happen.

When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it ….

I love this quote. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

Vision without execution is just hallucination.

Vision and purpose trump strategy and culture. Without a vision, you’ll end up as Yogi Berra says: If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.

Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.

Take care of your employees; they’ll remain loyal AND deliver great customer experiences.

You say I started out with practically nothing, but that isn’t correct. We all start with all there is, it’s how we use it that makes things possible.

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
And culture means doing the right thing when no one is looking.

Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.

Be open and candid with your customers. Don’t make excuses; just resolve the issues and keep customers in the loop during the process.

If money is your hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.

There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get to the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.

Clearly the “other person’s point of view” in the world of CX is your customer’s point of view. Walk in your customers’ shoes. Map the journey from the customer’s viewpoint.

There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.

It doesn’t get any more straightforward than that. Deliver quality to your customers while taking care of your employees. Ford was a huge proponent for paying top dollar. While it’s not always about the money, he certainly thought outside the box on this topic when no one else did.

Don’t find fault, find a remedy.

Blaming is unproductive. The customer is not always right, but isn’t it easier and more of a delighter to just solve the problem without question? If there’s a problem, and you solve it right the first time, customers are typically more satisfied than if there hadn’t been a problem at all.

Employers only handle the money – it is the customer who pays the wages.

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.

Peter Drucker said it slightly differently: the purpose of a business is to create customers. Important words to live by.

A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits.  They will be embarrassingly large.

Be ready to revise any system, scrap any method, abandon any theory, if the success of the job requires it.
Process improvement is an important part of customer experience management.

Competition whose motive is merely to compete, to drive some other fellow out, never carries very far.

Don’t just focus on the competition. Focusing on the competition is not a business strategy. It’s lame.

The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time.

That quote reminds me of this from Sean Covey: “…a story I once heard about two friends being chased by a bear, when one turned to the other and said, ‘I just realized that I don’t need to outrun the bear; I only need to outrun you.'”

Businesses that grow by development and improvement do not die.

Every success is the mother of countless others.

As far as competition is concerned, that must continue. But we must learn what competition really is.
It is a striving to attain the best. To throttle it would mean to stop all progress. Certain men do not need to compete. They are pioneers.
Steve. Jobs. Period.

In the Ford Motor Company, we emphasize service equally with sales.

This is a point I’ve had to iterate and reiterate often in my career. Sales brings in the business. But service delivers on it and keeps it. The keeping part is pretty important given that the bringing part can be costly.

Every business is a monarchy with, not a man, but an idea as king.

Did I mention? Vision and Purpose trump everything else. Your vision tells customers and employees where you’re going, and your purpose provides the why and is your guiding light.

The best way to make money in business is not to think too much about making it.

Yup. Focus on your customers; the profits will come.

There you have it… my favorite Henry Ford quotes. What are some of your favorites?