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TCU 360

TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

TCU alumni connect with each other at Guy Fieri’s Dive & Taco Joint in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. on Friday Oct. 7, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Tristen Smith)
How TCU's alumni chapters keep the Horned Frog spirit alive post-grad
By Addison Thummel, Staff Writer
Published May 11, 2024
TCU graduates can stay connected with the Horned Frog community with alumni chapters across the nation.

Airline president says employees come first, not customers

The president and corporate secretary of Southwest Airlines said Thursday morning that the customer is not always right.Colleen C. Barrett, who is on the Board of Directors of JC Penney, in the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame and was named by Forbes magazine one of the most powerful women in business, spoke to faculty, staff, students and businesspeople Thursday morning during the Tandy Executive Speaker Series.

Short called her a “sergeant mother” and said she takes good care of her employees.

“She sends her colleagues birthday cards,” Short said. “She treats them like family.”

This idea and reputation is what Barrett focused on during her speech. She explained that employees are important and should be trusted. Barrett said her employees and leaders in her company strive to treat passengers with respect and kindness.

“We have owned customer satisfaction in our industry for 36 years,” Barrett said. “People live on our airline.”

Barrett said employees come first and passengers come second.

“I spend 80 percent of my time making employees feel good about what they are doing,” Barrett said.

Barrett said when you make employees feel good about their work and when they know you trust them, they will make the customers feel good. She said that is why Southwest Airlines has been so successful and why being a low-airfare airline work so well for them.

“Practice the golden rule, passengers will come back for more,” Barrett said. “We under-promise and over-deliver.”

Julie Baker, an associate professor of marketing said, “She really did a great job conveying what makes Southwest different. It’s all about culture.”

Barrett said customers are not always right. She said she defends her employees and will not stand for customers to be disrespectful to them.

Many people in the audience complimented and applauded her for this idea she and her company practice.

Rick Jordan, chief operating officer of Frishberg, Jordan, and Stewart Advisers and vice president of Biz Radio Network, was one of the sponsors for the event and said he learned a lot from her speech.

Jordan said the most important thing for him was “the confirmation of theory I had that the customer isn’t always right.”

“Our business is customer oriented, but I wouldn’t stand for someone to be rude to my employee,” Jordan said.

Barrett said she grew up in a low-income family in Vermont and her mom taught her to never be ashamed of her background.

“I never had a career path,” Barrett said. “I am just a good story of what can happen in America.”

According to her biography on the Neeley School Web site, Barrett supervises the leadership, management and budget dealings in the Southwest Airlines marketing department. She also works in the customer relations, corporate communications and employee and labor relations departments in her company. She has held many leadership positions for many years at her company. Barrett serves on a board of directors, a planning committee, civic and charitable organizations and many different chairs and teams.

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