Episode 3 - What Can JCPenney, Southwest & Green Mountain Power Teach Us About the Customer?

Episode 3 June 11, 2019

What can JCPenney, Southwest Airlines and Green Mountain Power teach us about knowing (or not knowing) your customer?

This episode will look at how companies are evolving in this customer-centric world. How can a fierce dedication to the customer change the fabric of a company? And how can companies fail when they lose sight of their customers?

Sometimes the customer isn’t who you think it is. JCPenney is an iconic retailer who failed to understand its customers’ needs and became “America’s favorite cautionary tale.” In the first part of the show, we’ll look at why the retailer failed in a bid to reinvent itself.

Next, we will explore the rise of Southwest Airlines, and how it sometimes takes an outsider to step back to understand what the customer wants. When lawyer Herb Kelleher started Southwest Airlines, he didn’t have any airline experience, but he created a human resources culture that made employees happy — and made customers happy in the process.

Finally, we’ll profile Mary Powell, the CEO of Green Mountain Power, who makes interaction with customers a central part of her job. This is how she’ll describe her approach to customer centricity and innovation: “One of my biggest fears is being out of touch with what people want and what really matters to people.”

Guests featured in this episode:

  • Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University
  • Jody Hoffer Gittell, professor at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
  • Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power


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