How Southwest Airlines Created an Amazing Customer Experience

September 07, 2018
 Inc Magazine recently featured a story in which a pilot for Southwest Airlines held a departing flight for 12 minutes in order to ensure a passenger was able to make the flight. The passenger, was en-route to grieve with his family as they prepared to take his two-year-old grandson off life support--clearly a difficult time. As someone whose job requires a significant amount of time in the air, seeing a story like this full of compassion warmed my heart. But, it also served as a great springboard to discuss how major brands like Southwest Airlines are delivering amazing customer experiences, and how this can easily translate into everyday life.
Sometimes Making a Person Feel Important During Their Time of Need is More Important Than Generating Revenue:
It is a well-known fact that Southwest Airlines operates on very quick turnaround times when it comes to planes arriving in one destination and then departing for another. This quick turnaround leads to millions of dollars saved annually and is a big part of Southwest Airlines’ culture, but something that is also part of their culture is serving others. As we discuss in Creating a Strong Service Culture, having a strong company culture can make or break your business. At the end of the day, if your customers don’t feel good about doing business with you it doesn’t matter how much revenue you generate, you’ve created a business model that is not sustainable.
There is Always Room for Compassion in the Workplace:
The Southwest Pilot knew that his company would stand by his decision to hold the flight; even if it resulted in financial loss because that moment of compassion would result in an increase in customers and customer loyalty. Research has shown that compassion in the workplace leads to increased performance, innovation, retention, profitability and product quality. It makes sense too: if employees feel good about the company they work for, they are more likely to stay on as employees and challenge themselves to grow within the company.
Compassion Starts at the Top:
 If your management team displays compassion, employees will display compassion, and this will result in a positive customer experience. Managing compassionately means putting yourself in the shoes of others and seeing the world through their eyes. It means practicing positive communication in the workplace and setting an example for others. The phrase “nice guys finish last” need not apply in this scenario. Nice guys inspire others to be nice too.