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Extr B 16


est known for starting Virgin Airlines because he was so fed up with British Airways' service, Richard Branson is also known for his striking


silver mane, his wilingness to break the rules and commitment to putting his customers and staff first. FYM put some questions to one of Britain’s most distinguished entrepreneurs and this is what he had to say.


FYM: A central focus of our upcoming issue is customer service. How important is this to your business and why? Customers shouldn’t just think of your business as a place to buy a product or use a service - it should be a fun place to be! Making customer service key to your organisation will keep your employees motivated and your customers happy. This in turn ensures enduring loyalty, business success and, most importantly, a more fulfilling and meaningful experience for everybody involved.


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GOING THE tra


FYM: What’s the craziest or most outstanding thing you’ve done to go the extra mile for your customers? When I launched Virgin Airlines I put my house, car and what little savings I had at risk - not forgetting I was doing all of this to compete against British Airways, the biggest airline in the UK. Naturally there were huge risks, but I was frustrated with how the airline industry was operating and thought customers deserved better!


FYM: What’s the worst customer service you’ve ever experienced or heard of? I’d never embarrass the person or company by ever revealing that!


FYM: Like all businesses, you probably mess up at times. If so, how do you fix it? Keep up a regular dialogue with your customers, and it will serve as an early warning system to alert you if a business starts to go off track. I try to read as many letters of complaint as I can to get a sense of where our businesses can be improved.


If you want both your staff and


customers to remain loyal, you need to look after them, says Sir Richard Branson


mile


FYM: In your view what do you need to do to ensure you deliver outstanding customer service? Providing quality service, combined with value for money, in an innovative way and predominantly in areas where we can challenge markets which are stagnant. All this ensures you offer real value. Finally, we need to be responsible to society and the planet.


FYM: You often talk about how important it is to have great relationships with your employees. Why is this so? At Virgin we try to encourage people to think for themselves and not behave like automatons. I always say that your employees are your number one asset and the way you treat your them will impact the way they treat your customers. One thing I learned early on was to make sure a business did not feel too big and ensure your management feel in control. When a company got to 100 people, I would often split it in two and create two managing directors to give them a sense of ownership.


fresh young millionaire


PHOTOS: COURTESY VIRGIN


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