Virgin On The Meticulous – Customer Service At Its Very Best!

January 28, 2014

I watched an amazing clip on YouTube this week where Sir Richard Branson and David Cush his President & CEO of Virgin America talked about customer service.

Virgin America entered the highly competitive United States of America internal flight market in 2013. They are confident of success and put that down to one thing, customer service. Branson states “When we launched Virgin Atlantic 30 years ago we had one second hand 747, our competitors at that time had an average of 300 planes each. Every single one of them has since gone bankrupt. The difference is they didn’t have customer service, we did.”

Watch the video now:

In order to know they will be giving the best service they only hire the best people. On average they physically see 100 applicants to find 1 new employee. That is an incredible time commitment but they see it as crucial to their business survival.

So what are they seeking in this ‘super-recruitment’ process? They want to find people with a really positive outlook on life, people that see the good, glass half full people. They also look for very high levels of empathy (EQ). The other skills they seek are problem solving and decision making, what they describe as ‘imagination’.

Virgin give total empowerment to every employee and here is the key phrase as spoken on the video by David Cush, “When faced with a “situation” we tell our employees that it is better to seek forgiveness afterwards than to seek permission.” In other words, do what YOU think is right, don’t ask a manager or consult a rule book!

Think about your own business or organisation, could you implement that philosophy right now?

I’m guessing that most of you (being honest) will say no! If you find yourself thinking “I couldn’t have that, my business would go bust in five minutes!” then you are employing the wrong people OR you need to drastically change the way you manage them.

Next time you have to recruit remember this blog!

So what other nuggets of wisdom were contained in the clip? Well Branson states “Be visible” and that a great leader should never get stranded behind a desk. Express a public and passionate commitment to customer service. To reinforce the piece above he also states that a businesses’ greatest asset is its employees.

In another twist Branson states you should engage with social media with a genuine voice. He runs his own Twitter account and wouldn’t dream of outsourcing that to a marketing department. I speak to business owners of relatively small businesses that tell me they can’t afford the time to tweet. I tell them that in modern business they cannot afford NOT to tweet! If Richard Branson can do it with all the companies he runs, why can’t you?

Hope you enjoyed that piece as much as I enjoyed watching the original video clip!

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

Back To Blog Home