Latest News  

TELUS International Europe: Improving customer satisfaction in the airline industry – lessons from Southwest Airlines

At a time when the airline industry has been plagued by one PR disaster after another, it may come as a surprise to learn that airline customer satisfaction has actually reached its highest level ever, according to JD Power

2017-10-31 21:07:07

Grégoire Vigroux
Vice-President Marketing Europe at TELUS

Each year, the global marketing company releases a report ranking customer satisfaction for North American airlines based on a number of factors, including cost and fees, in-flight services, the check-in process, reservations and more.

One carrier to thank for the impressive trend upward is Southwest Airlines, who took the top spot for customer satisfaction among the low-cost airlines for 2017.

Southwest Airlines has built its impressive brand around being different from the norm, offering a personable and friendly service to customers during even the most difficult times. We asked Rob Hahn, customer-relations business consultant at Southwest Airlines, to share some of the secrets of how the company continues to use a great customer experience to drive overall business success.

Q: How would Southwest describe its brand character?
A: Our company purpose is to connect people to what is important in their lives through friendly, reliable low-cost air travel. That's in the back of our minds as we're serving our customers each and every day.

Q: How does Southwest set a standard tone for communication?
A: We want to have a fun-loving attitude instead of a stiff corporate structure when we're interacting with our customers. [It's about] having a conversation with them versus telling them, "Here's the policy, here's the information."

Q: How does Southwest empower employees to take control when difficult situations arise?
A: In the airline industry, there are so many things that could go wrong — or so many things that could go well — during a travel experience. When [our employees] are helping a customer, they look at how they can make things right, and make it a win for the company.

We give them tools to make those decisions on their own. Our customer relation representatives — social or phone — are trained on all of our systems. They are the escalation points and can handle anything that a customer throws our way. We really try to be that one-stop shop where we can handle the customers in a hurry and we don't have to send them to another team or another department. We train each of our representatives on our systems, our policies, how we speak to our customers, and on the different channels through which we interact with them.

Q: What's your strategy for dealing with the inevitable challenges, delays and frustration that occur during travel?
A: Regardless of the situation, the first thing you want to do is be transparent with the customer and let them know what's going on and show them what we're trying to do to fix it.

During a tech outage [last July], our VP of communications was doing Facebook Live chats. We had a live running blog with updates on what was happening. In this case, social media played a big role for us get the word out about what we were doing.

That was a really big win, though it was a challenging situation.

Q: In a challenging situation like the outage, how does Southwest keep from transferring passenger stress to staff?
A: I think a lot of it is in the way we hire. We hire folks who are passionate about providing customer service. They know that, in customer service, sometimes there are upset customers. Finding that right employee, who really has a passion to create resolutions for that customer, I think that really helps.

We all know that customers are not frustrated with us, but with the situation. So it's important to look beyond that frustration and how can we fix the situation for them.

Q: Is there a point when Southwest will choose to disengage with a customer?
A: We [always] try to work with the customer. People can be very heated, but our folks are very good at getting to the root of their problem so we can get it fixed. We don't have anything where we say, "O.K. we're cutting the customer off."

If there is something that feels like a road block that [our staff] can't get through, then we can escalate it to a supervisor or another leader to try to help the customer. But we're here to help, so we really want to stay with the customer and get their situation solved.

Q: How important is a sense of humor when communicating with customers?
A: A fun-loving attitude is one of our principles. We encourage employees to not take themselves too seriously; to have fun with our customers and with fellow employees. That's really unique about our company and about all of our employees.

For example, when our flight attendants do their safety briefings — there are certain regulatory requirements on safety briefings — but besides those requirements they'll crack jokes and sing songs, which gets the customers' attention. There are a lot of different things that are normal airline-industry jargon and we can find a way to make them more fun. We give our employees the choice to do that, if they want to.

We [want to have] fun with our customers and have conversations that are not just a boring back-and-forth. It's about having that Southwest heart and leaving customers feeling good about their experience.

Keep up-to-date with the latest thinking about BPO, ITO and Contact Center solutions. Each month, TELUS International, a global provider of contact center outsourcing and BPO solutions, shares insights on the latest customer service trends.

Related articles: /

0 COMMENTS ^ Go back to Top
WRITE A COMMENT ^ Go back to Top
Your email address will not be published.
Validation Code
Deloitte: Executives are optimistic about Industry 4.0 but lack confidence in their organizations' influence and preparedness

Senior business executives and government agency leaders from around the world lack confidence in their organizations' readiness to influence and harness the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revol

 Read Full article »
Deloitte study reveals Romania's young talents look for organizations in which they matter

Only 15.6 per cent of Romanian millennials think that university graduates in the country are well prepared for professional work. However, 75 per cent of the Romanian students wish to continue their education

 Read Full article »
DB Global Technology kicks off the third edition of DB Tech School

DB Global Technology, the technology center of Deutsche Bank in Bucharest, is preparing for the third edition of DB Tech School, a training program for Java specialists, the company announced.

 Read Full article »
Atos joins global cybersecurity initiative Charter of Trust

Atos, along Enel and AES Corporation joined Charter of Trust, a global cybersecurity initiative. The announcement has been made during this year's 2018 CERAWeek conference in Houston.

 Read Full article »
Luxoft appoints Bogdan Pelinescu as Managing Director for Central Europe

Luxoft Holding, global IT service provider, today announced that starting from March 1, 2018 Bogdan Pelinescu will become its Managing Director for Central Europe.

 Read Full article »
NTT Data Romania leases 2.800 sqm in the third building of Openville Timisoara

The Iulius Company and NTT Data Romania, one of the top providers of software solutions and in Romania, signed a lease agreement for premises in the third class A office building currently pending development i

 Read Full article »
CTP operates five of the Top 10 industrial buildings with BREEAM in-Use certification

The company CTP is continuing its efforts to support permanent, sustainable development and is continuously building top-of-the-line spaces, which are presented with various noteworthy awards. It currently owns

 Read Full article »
The Romanian Unicorn: UiPath raises around 120 mln dollars investment for software robots for internal business tasks

TechCrunch has learned that Romanian RPA developer UiPath, a startup that builds ‘software robots' for enterprises to help automate legacy and back-office functions, has raised a Series B round of funding th

 Read Full article »
ABSL Cluj-Napoca Business Mixer 2018: Transformations, innovations and continuous improvements in the BPO space

ABSL organized the 3rd edition of Cluj-Napoca Business Mixer on February 27. More than 70 people coming from over 30 companies were present at the event, eager to learn more about the transformations, innova

 Read Full article »
National Statistics Institute: The weight of innovative enterprises scaled down 2.6 per cent between 2014 and 2016

Innovation in Romanian enterprises dropped in the period 2014-2016 compared to the period 2012-2014, according to the provisional results of the statistical survey on innovation in industry and services. Large

 Read Full article »
» Molson Coors started to grow its busin...
» Romania, Europe's third and world's 13...
» Saxo Bank analysis: Romania, the ideal...
» Committed to growth
» New customer contact centre opens at B...
» Why AFI Tech Park is the best value fo...
» Genpact's COO: Staying ahead of the cu...
» Oracle reaches 4,200 employees and pla...
» LeasePlan to open service center in Bu...
SAP's ten prediction for HR in 2018

The beginning of each year comes with the leaders' prediction in different interest fields. When it comes to human capital management (HCM), most predictions tend to be variations of the same things, accordin

 Read Full article »
Accenture: Company culture is key to unlocking gender equality and narrowing pay gap

New research from Accenture has identified 40 workplace factors that create a culture of equality – including 14 factors that matter the most. The research, published today in the company's "Getting to Equal

 Read Full article »
Romanian Outsourcing & Shared Services Summit at its fourth edition on March 22

OUTSOURCING TODAY, the integrated communication platform of the business services sector, presents the Fourth Edition of Romanian Outsourcing & Shared Services Summit on March 22nd at Hilton Hotel, Bucharest. T

 Read Full article »
Romanian employers forecast the most subdued hiring pace since Q1 of 2016

The Q2 of 2018 hiring perspectives are positive, but trend moderately weaker both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year

 Read Full article »
IT&C companies are the first for renting new office space

The IT&C sector ranks first in the top of fields renting new office space in 2017, study of ESOP I Corfac International consulting company says.

 Read Full article »
Latest News  
about us | newsletter | contact | members area
Copyright © 2015 by Diplomat Media Events Design by Diplomat Media Events