While everyone knows stories about young ambition that turns to corporate success, there is no story more captivating and grand than that of Richard Branson. As a child, the now Chairman of Virgin Group (which encompasses music, books, airlines, mobile phones, trains, consumer electronics, commercial spaceflight, to name a few) saw markets of untapped potential across numerous sectors, but pioneered his vision with the installment of Virgin; a mail-order music store in London. By age 23, the Virgin Store had become Virgin Records, and its first album release boasted over 5 million copies sold.
As time would progress, Branson would continue to add iconic names to the Virgin Records label and build upon the success of the company as it went public. However, Branson’s innovative style of leadership wasn’t necessarily compatible with traditional investors. In turn, Branson would end up selling off Virgin Records to Thorn-EMI in an effort to regain control over his company. His next venture would be the world of air travel. By offering a hip, new and engaging way to travel, Virgin Atlantic has attracted a younger clientele on an airline that pays homage to the days when air travel was sexy and sophisticated, as made evident from their 2011 ad campaign.
In his biography, Branson states that:
“For me business is not about wearing suits, or keeping stockholders pleased. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials”
Adhering to this principle, the airline division of the Virgin Group does not rest solely on the laurels of their brand image alone, but also ensures a customer service experience that is second to none. With the installment of 52 state-of-the-art classrooms at their Customer Service Training Facility as well as auditoriums, employees are kept up to date on practices that are the benchmark of industry standard. What is truly unique about this program, though, is that it is offered to customers, as well. This level of transparency is a key factor in the success of the brand as a whole, and allows it to build upon an already stellar reputation for excellence.
“In today’s climate where every customer service provider is under pressure, we appreciate the importance of building lasting, valuable relationships with both our internal and external customers.”
It is this mentality that has routinely earned Richard Branson accolades not only for his airline, but across numerous segments with the creation of each new product or service. Branson is also no stranger to sharing his voice on both sides of the operations, and routinely engages customers through his own personal social media efforts of Twitter and his personal blog.
For his ability to focus on the customer desires and selling a lifestyle as opposed to a product, Richard Branson is our Inspirational Innovator this month.