TMCnews Featured Article
How Southwest Airlines Became a Model for Customer Loyalty
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
One key fundamental difference in the Southwest Airlines' approach lies in its overall philosophy. The company truly believes it is 'in the customer service business -- it just happens to fly airplanes.' This is believed so strongly that Southwest qualifies a customer service candidate for employment based on attitude, not experience. The company believes that you can teach a person how to deliver quality service, but the attitude must be brought to the job.
When an individual is hired for the job, they are immediately immersed in the service culture of the company. The company understands that to keep the customer service spirit alive within its walls, it was necessary to have someone at the highest levels to oversee the entire initiative. As a result, the company established a position: 'Vice President of Customers.'
Not only were Southwest employees trained to give excellent customer service, they were also empowered to do so. When people with the right attitude are hired and trained according to the company's customer service standards, they can be confident that the employee will make the right decisions. An inability to address an emotional situation on the spot and to the satisfaction of the customer is key to driving long-term satisfaction and customer loyalty.
Aside from this focus, Southwest Airlines also made sure the job was fun. They knew if people were having fun on the job, they would be more apt to come to work with a great attitude and deliver great customer service. This was exemplified through airport games and activities when flights were delayed, putting customers at ease and creating an air of relaxation and fun instead of frustration and anger.
By keeping customers at the forefront of employees' minds, Southwest Airlines ensures that the high standard of quality service the company has determined is protected across all channels. This includes a number of innovative programs that are unique and challenging to keep everyone intrigued.
While not every interaction will be perfect 100 percent of the time, Southwest Airlines is dedicated to ensuring it gets - and stays - as close to that 100 percent as possible.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard