Tag Archives: Southwest Airlines

Idea Gathering: 2013 Customer Experience Report

Not just hearing but translating innovations and insights is a huge part of the value of the Total Customer Experience Leaders. Our unique idea gathering wrap-ups between sessions facilitate alignment of customer strategy inspiration with business relevant actions and have been one of our most highly rated features in the past.

Here on the blog, we’ll be presenting weekly idea gathering wrap ups of some of our favorite customer experience strategy, design and alignment news and views.

This week we’ll be discussing a recent customer experience report published by the Temkin Group.

The Temkin Group is a customer experience research and consulting firm just outside of Boston. The firm provides insights for some of the largest brands and aids companies in transforming their customer journeys. Besides their consulting work they also release an annual report which rates industries and companies customer experience. The report uses feedback from 10,000 consumers to rank 246 companies across 19 different industries. The guidelines for evaluation were these three questions:
    

  1. Functional: How well do experiences meet customers’ needs?
  2. Accessible: How easy is it for customers to do what they want to do?
  3. Emotional: How do customers feel about the experiences?
The top five customer experience firms this year according the report were Publix, Trader Joes, Aldi, Chick-fil-A, Sam’s Club and Amazon (tied for 5). It’s interesting to note that not only did Grocery store chains take spots one, two, and three, but as a whole the grocery industry was rated the highest and scored well above the rest. There are definitely lessons to be learned in customer experience from grocery chains.

On the other end of the spectrum, according to the Temkin Group, the worst customer experience in America can be found at US Airways who were given a measly 46% in the report (compared to 84% at Publix). The Airline industry as a whole scored very poorly, not a big surprise considering a recent study ranked Airlines more hated by consumers then the IRS. Other low ranking industrie4s include TV/Internet Service providers and Health Plans.

Notable variance occurred in the Hotel industry where the leader, Mariott, scored a 75% while the worst hotel for customer experience, Days Inn, scored a paltry 48%. Significant variance was also reported in the Insurance industry where consumers ranked USAA an impressive 77% but scored 21st century at just 49%.

The report as a whole gives a great look at customer experience trends and how companies are universally putting a greater emphasis on their customer’s experiences. According to the Temkin Group the number of companies with at least a ‘good’ rating increased has increased 9% in the last year, and 21% in the last two years, and 57% of firms had at least a modest increase.
Where would your company be on this list?
 
Jeffrey Marino is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Business Administration, Management Information Systems, and Tech Innovations. He blogs atFordham Nights and can be reached at JMarino@iirusa.com.

Red Carpet? Not exactly . . .

My appointment is made for the hair stylist, clothing is selected for a great first impression, flight and hotel reservations are made, and the celebrity list is out-of-sight. Just in case you are thinking that I am headed to Nashville to attend the Country Music Awards on Wednesday night, that is not the reason for my state of mind. Next week, I am attending the 2011 NACCM Conference in Orlando on November 13 – 16. I love to speak, write, train and think about customer service and the opportunity to learn from experts in a wide array of industries fills me with delight. I look forward to hearing the stories of creating magical moments for customers from this high-profile celebrity list and many more:
Peter Guber, Author of Tell to Win
Jamie Noughton, Zappos
Jasmine Green, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
Pete Winemiller, NBA Oklahoma City Thunder
Fred Taylor, Jr. Southwest Airlines
Mike Sachs, Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Gina Debogovich, Best Buy
Kelly N. Cook, DSW Designer Show Warehouse
Okay, so I’m not talking about singing stars like Taylor Swift & Toby Keith that entertain audiences with musical notes. I am talking about experts that can teach companies how to keep from hitting a sour note with a client that can impact customer satisfaction, loyalty and the bottom line.
Even with 32 years of customer service experience, I always look forward to hearing fresh ideas and renewing commitment to give my clients the latest and greatest information.
Who do you think will be the entertainer of the year, I mean conference? Please share with me your favorite performances. I hope to see you in Orlando.
Connie Brubaker
Integrity Training Solutions
512 346 7270
Building People, Productivity and Profits with Integrity

Companies looking to social customer service post-holiday

According to Marketing Vox, many companies are relying on social media tools to accommodate the questions of the individuals using the tool for such questions as return policies. Companies such as Comcast, Dell, Southwest, and AT&T are fully using it as a customers service tool.

What do you think of companies using Twitter as a customer service tool? Have you had a pleasant experience as a customer using these tools? One interesting fact in the article was that customers who do use these social media tools for assistance expect a higher level of service. Read the article here.

NACCM 2009: From Emotion to Devotion: Wiring the Experience with Humanity to Drive Loyalty. Planes and People Making LUV Connections

We’ve all heard it said that we should put our customers first. Southwest Airlines doesn’t think so. Their philosophy is to put employees first. In fact, the company believes that happy employees = happy customers = happy shareholders, says Teresa Laraba, Vice President of Ground Operations for Southwest Airlines.

Southwest began in 1971 with 3 aircrafts serving 3 cities. Today, under the leadership of CEO Gary Kelly, it is one of the nation’s largest domestic airlines in terms of daily departures and customers carried. They have the safest record, best on-time performance, consistently low fares and the best flight schedules, reports Laraba.

The secret of their success is in the fact that they hire the best front liners. They hire based on attitude and look for people who ‘live the Southwest way’ says Laraba. It takes a servant’s heart willing to follow the Golden Rule, a warrior spirit to do what it takes, and a fun loving attitude that encourages employees to take the work seriously, but not themselves. Needless to say, Southwest experiences high employee retention. Laraba herself has been with Southwest for 25 years.

Empowering employees to do the right thing is key says Laraba. They do this by having employees follow these principles:

Guidelines rather than rules
Golden Rule overrides what few rules we have
Lean toward the Customer and you’ll never get in trouble
Our employees take pride in finding solutions

Southwest has an entire department, Internal Customer Care, responsible for recognizing employee birthdays and anniversaries and giving gifts and care packages. They believe in treating each other like family and being there for their employees in good times and tough times.

What do they get by investing in their employees? Their customers see the difference. This is brought home in a quote from President Emeritus Colleen Barrett, ‘We are in the Customer Service Business. We just happen to fly airplanes.’

Southwest understands the power of saying ‘we’re sorry’. A Customer Communication department focuses on contacting customers within 72 hours of an issue and apologizes when Southwest does something wrong. They create customer evangelists by going above and beyond, doing whatever it takes, with proactive communication. They choose to make regular deposits in the ‘Goodwill Bank’ says Laraba.

Southwest’s influence goes beyond the airport and into the community. Employees are encouraged to embrace causes and they do. For example, Southwest has raised approximately $11 million dollars for Ronald McDonald House.

The company is always looking for ways to improve the customer experience. Some of these improvements have included self-service kiosks, online and mobile check-in, power stations, redesigned gate areas, wireless access, and cashless cabins.

Southwest Airlines is a true example of leadership in action with an unwavering commitment to employees. This commitment has fueled their success and will continue to put them on the map as a company to model.

A New Flight Pattern: Customer Service and Twitter


Customers with issues during their travel can tweet their respective airlines and within minutes their issues can be resolved, reports the Associated Press. Now that customer service representatives are using Twitter, fliers of low-cost airlines have another level of contact with the airline. The Associated Press article writes, discount airlines have traditionally outflanked the big network carriers in customer service and low fares, and it appears they’re extending their advantage to social media. The discounters often respond with quick feedback to travelers’ concerns on social networking sites, while traditional network carriers peddle last-minute fare deals but seem slow to embrace Twitter and Facebook to beef up customer service.

If you’re interested in learning more about airline customer service, join Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airlines at NACCM 2009.

Southwest Stabilizes Leadership in Air Carriers by Implementing New Customer Services

The Chicago Tribune reports that Southwest Airlines, the leading legacy American air carrier has recently EarlyBird Check-In service. For $10, a customer can be among the first boarding group with Rapid Rewards and Business Select members.

On the first day, 20,000 customers bought the service, providing $200,000 to the company’s bottom line,” Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly said.

“While [Southwest] has made it clear that they don’t want to ‘nickel and dime’ their customers, they are beginning to tiptoe into ancillary revenue waters that other airlines have jumped into headfirst,” wrote Michael Derchin, a research analyst at FTN Equity Capital Markets Corp.

Analysts expect Southwest to begin offering in-flight Wi-Fi service for a fee next year and possibly add a fee for a second checked bag. Some analysts anticipate that Southwest also will look at selling food on its flights, as most domestic carriers do.

What other customer-centric policies can Southwest Airlines implement to keep their bottom line holding strong?

Southwest Airlines weathers downturn with focus on customer service, spirited attitude

The ‘Greying’ of Social Media

From our post yesterday looking at a not-so surprising article in yesterday’s NY Times, Who’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens, which looks at the popular growth of some of the latest social media in the last few months, specifically, Twitter; I thought I’d add my 2-cents. As we noted, they supply some interesting data from comScore including that just 11% of Twitter users are between the ages of 12 to 17. Overwhelmingly, Twitter users are an older segment of the population and as Forrester Research notes in the article, people aged 35 to 54 using social media grew 60 percent in the last year.

Shocking? Hardly. Over at Mashable they’ve highlighted this in their coverage of the NY Times piece here, and had written about this just a few weeks ago. In the NY Times piece they highlight a couple of obvious reasons why, first, that the nature of the technology, much more public than social networks like Facebook, is less enticing to teens who are more comfortable interacting and sharing with their friends rather than random strangers coming across their streams. This in turn, looking at it from a professional perspective, offers adults a means to find interesting and useful topics and discussions relevant to their interests.

But very simply as a segment of the population, the ‘Teens’ demographic overwhelmingly uses social media/networking compared to other age groups. In a sheer numbers comparison, there’s not many more users to attract to the technology while other age groups, all you have is room to grow. In fact, in the case of Twitter, that may be what will eventually happen for 12-17 subset of users. But for me, what is fascinating is how fast the comfort level is rising in the adoption and ongoing usage of social media by older users – not so much that they are leading the charge in using technology, but rather its overall importance as a tool among many tools they use. In the past, in the early days of the dot com boom and bust, web usage was still highly segmented. For social media today, its usage overall is beginning to top even the frequency users access their emails:
In fact in a follow-up piece on their technology blog, BITS, they look at this growing adoption and usage by older demographics, citing recent Forrester reports and data. Clearly, as a communication and interaction medium this growth in usage by older segments of the population raises some questions. For marketers, particular brand managers, the hope that the power of tv, radio and other traditional mediums to influence purchasing decisions will somehow remain strong is increasingly questionable. Why? Well, looking at advertising dollars and ROI through those mediums seems shaky at best. I’m sure any media buyer out there would say not so, but I am biased. And as we pointed out this week, clearly marketers see the numbers and the level of adoption by all age groups and customer segments, and its not a question of should we use social media, but when.But looking past marketing, the impact of social media on the business landscape raises even more questions. How does it impact customer service, if increasingly customers feel they are able to get better and faster responses via social media a la Twitter, case in point, Comcast and Southwest Airlines to name a few. How might it impact product development, market research, sales, etc, etc. Of course, I may be simply preaching to the choir.But then again, every time I work with direct marketers and product managers in certain industries, I continue to hear, well our audience just isn’t that tech savvy. When I hear that, my eyes glaze over and mind drifts away and I think, for your sake, I hope it’s true.

Don’t wait on hold, they’ll call back

Southwest, a company already well respected for the way it treats its customers, now has a new option for those calling in to their service center. The company has begun using Virtual Hold, a service that allows customers to call the service centers, and if the wait is too long, will call the customer back when the next customer service representative is available. Sitting on hold is a pet peeve of many customers, and Southwest has already been praised for this new initiative.

The new offering has reportedly earned the airline high marks from customers ‘ some of whom twittered about it.

‘Companies: In an age of cell phones, don’t make me sit on hold. Call me back when it’s my turn, like Southwest just did,’ one customer ‘tweeted’ on the popular social networking site, according to the release.

Read the full article here.

NACCM Customers 1st 2009 Full Conference Details Just Released

Hello:

I’m excited to announce that the 7th annual NACCM Customers 1st 2009 Conference full program details have just been published. It’s taking place Nov. 2-5, 2009 at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak in Phoenix, Arizona. NACCM Customers 1st is the most comprehensive customer-centric conference covering everything customer strategy under one roof. Speaking companies include Dell, FedEx, Southwest Airlines, Marriott International, Mastercard Worldwide, Travelocity, Zappos.com, JetBlue Airways, CIGNA, The Hartford and many more. The event has over 40 sessions, 45 corporate practitioner speakers, 3 Chief Customer Officers, 2 Chief Marketing Officers, 2 Chief Experience Officers and 5 visionary authors…the program is more hands-on and results driven than any other customer event.

For more information and to download the conference brochure, visit www.iirusa.com/naccm. The earlier you register, the more you save. Register today to save $400.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback on the event. I may be reached at apowers@iirusa.com.

I hope to see you there!

All the best,
Amanda Powers
Senior Conference Producer
IIR, NACCM Customers 1st Team

Track Presentation: Southwest Airlines – Nuts About Online Communications

Paula Berg, Manager of Emerging Media from Southwest Airlines presented the second afternoon of Community 2.0. She described the history and overall success Southwest has had in utilzing social media after their participation on the A&E reality show Airline, begining with launching their blog which has grown and expanded and become an award-winning source of information and behind-the-scenes look at Southwest from employees across the organization. Here’s a short clip from her presentation: