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Guest Blog: What Can We Learn from Southwest’s Customer Service?

This week we feature an article by Misa Chien who shares great lessons we can learn from the Southwest Airlines customer culture. This also reminds us that customer service doesn’t just happen on the front line. It happens throughout the entire company. It must be part of the company’s culture. – Shep Hyken

What comes to mind when you think of a bachelorette party? Many of us view these pre-wedding parties as the last hurrah, a fling before the ring. Presents, games, and alcohol are often part of the festivities. But would customer service ever make the highlight reel of such an event?

For one bride-to-be, it certainly did. Thanks to a few meaningful acts of kindness by Southwest Airlines, her flight to her bachelorette party became a memory worth treasuring.

In a recent Southwest customer review article, the bride-to-be shared that she and her five friends took the airline when flying from Baltimore to Charleston for a bachelorette party getaway. The first thing she noticed upon entering the aircraft? The smiles.

The conversations and interactions the bride-to-be and her friends experienced with the flight attendants were equally cheerful.

“We all sat together in the back two rows and the two flight attendants taking care of the back greeted us professionally but were equally as excited for us,” she wrote. “They even announced over the speaker that I was on the plane and for everyone to wish me luck in my marriage.”

After the flight landed, the flight attendants and captain gave the bride-to-be and her friends a special surprise. As the group made their way off the plane, the flight crew waved toward the bride-to-be with a bottle of champagne in celebration of her upcoming wedding.

The bride ended her review on Southwest’s page by writing, “I don’t think people give enough good reviews only bad reviews, and I wanted to acknowledge these people and that it meant a lot to me and my group. Great Customer Service and I will definitely book all future trips (especially group trips) with Southwest!”

Her review represents a positive experience that has since gained national attention. And it all started with a commitment to great customer service.

So what can we learn about the customer culture at Southwest?

1) Good customer service starts with a smile.

This tip may have been the first thing you learned in any interaction with a customer or coworker, but a positive experience begins with the basics. Just like the bride-to-be on her Southwest flight, many customers will notice smiles and other welcoming nonverbal signals before a word is even uttered.

2) Share in customers’ excitement.

People generally like happy people. Sharing in the joy and excitement of a customer’s life event or other big news shows camaraderie and helps the employee relate to the customer. That said, aim not to come off as nosy—respect a customer’s boundaries, and if they want to share great news with you, they will!

3) Customer service is a continual effort.

Providing a memorable customer service experience is rarely just a one-and-done occurrence. Customers are impressed when an employee remembers something about them not just once but twice, or even more. The prolonged attention given to customers is recognizable, and will likely stick in their minds.

4) Customer surveys have power.

You can bet that the flight attendants likely felt encouraged by the positive feedback they received after their flight with the bachelorette party. Customer surveys not only allow customers to share their experiences but can also empower and motivate employees to do their best. To explore the top 15 survey tools on the market, click here.  

Misa Chien is the co-founder of Praiseworthy, a customer service blog helping small businesses improve their customer service. With resources ranging from how to get Google reviews for your business, to subscribing to get free weekly customer service quotes, the Praiseworthy blog has amassed over 5,000 customer service evangelist subscribers from around the world.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Would You Rather Clean A Toilet Or Contact Customer Service?

 
  1. I love this personalization, it set the tone for the customers weekend and made the overall experience superior. So how can we translate this over a phone call in a call center when customers already perceive reaching one as a less than desirable experience.

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