As I write this I'm sitting on an Alaska Airlines flight from Chicago to Portland. For the last decade I have made countless trips across the country many of which have been back and forth to Chicago. Until this trip I have always flown United. After all, Chicago is one of their main hubs; they have several daily flights and for years United was a reasonably good airline. Not perfect, but good enough for me.

But even before the recent tide of corporate stupidity and occasions of even prosecutable poor customer service I, as a regular customer who has clocked hundreds of thousands of miles aboard United, started feeling like an unvalued customer and started perusing competitor route apps to see if I had any other options. Thankfully I found one close to home in the form of Alaska airlines.

Alaska has done a remarkable job in two areas. First, they attempt to treat their passengers by the golden rule and, second, they have been adding new routes and non-stop destinations from Portland. After reviewing the route map I realized there just aren't that many places I need to go in the US that Alaska can't take me.

Quicken Loans invests a lot in its culture and one of their “ISMs” as they call them is the principal of “inches”. They even have a page on their website devoted just to their culture where they say the following:
If a company does one big thing better than their competition, it becomes fairly easy for their competition to level the playing field: they can just imitate that one thing. But, if a company does thousands of little things better than anyone else, they become nearly impossible to imitate. We call those thousands of little things "inches." We’d never be able to foresee all the things that should be noticed or improved. Instead, we drive a culture that motivates our team members to find the inches we need all around us. We are all empowered to find the opportunities to make an impact everywhere; one inch at a time, these inches all add up to greatness. (

Alaska Airlines seems also to have found many of those tiny little inches that, in accumulation, has made a positive difference. United Airlines has been accumulating inches (and sometimes miles as a single step) but they seem to be accumulating in the wrong direction. This philosophy of inches can work for you or, if you ignore it, can work against you. So I am leaving behind my 120 plus thousand unused United miles and opting for a kinder, gentler airline. To quote John Denver and Peter Paul and Mary, “I'm leaving on a jet plane; don't know when I'll be back again.” But I do know it won't be any time soon on United.
And thanks to the crew of June 21st’s flight 687 back home to Portland. Job well done!

This resonates heavily with us here at IDICIA. In an industry that can easily become impersonal with so many gatekeepers and hoops to jump through, we try to stay as close to just a phone call away as we can. We recognize that just a good product isn’t enough to stay afloat for the 20+ years we have. It also requires providing outstanding customer service whether it be testing for integration, reviewing data for a prospect, or even working on a custom solution to a unique problem. Thanks for wording it so well Quicken. And thanks Alaska for converting me… inch by inch. You didn't convince me with big promotions or mileage plans, but with old fashioned customer service, clearly trying hard to treat your customers like humans.