Why does it seem like some companies just get it, while their competitors don't?
I still don't understand how Nordstrom continues to offer great customer service and a no-questions-asked policy, while 100 yards away at Macy's in the Westfield Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, WA, the staff continues to be inattentive, unconcerned and grill you under hot klieg lights with dental drills when you want to return a pair of socks.
Southwest Airlines is a lot like Nordstrom and pretty much every other airline is like Macy's. I received yet another email from a Friend-of-Steve this week with a terrific WOW story; this one about Southwest Air.
Recently flying Southwest, Timothy Ruiz, Senior Applications Manager for Pall AeroPower Corporation, sat on a runway for quite a while waiting for weather to clear. The next day he received this email:
Greetings from Southwest Airlines:
I’m sorry your flight waited (and waited) on the taxiway for departure clearance on July 12 (and that the delay stretched into the evening). Unfortunately, the thunderstorms in the Mid-Atlantic area were unrelenting, which limited the viable air traffic routes to/from Philadelphia (the effect is similar to when a couple of lanes on a highway are closed during rush hour). As a result of these conditions, we were unable to provide you with timely service—thank you for your patience with us and the weather.
Though we may not be able to control Mother Nature, we do have some say in the way we show our appreciation of your valued patronage. In this regard, I am sending a
LUV Voucher* that we invite you to apply toward a future Southwest reservation—I hope this gesture will be accepted as our acknowledgement of the overall frustrations created by this situation. You can be sure that we are looking forward to seeing you in the days ahead.
The letter was a great touch by Melissa and SWA, but I was curious what the "LUV Voucher" would be and asked Timothy to let me know. Three days later he received the voucher — a $100 credit towards a future flight. As Timothy said, "That's no small potatoes."
While other airlines continue to rely on their Frequent Prisoner programs to keep us locked in, Southwest Airlines clearly treated Timothy like a valuable customer. Think he'll fly SWA again? Oh yeah. Has he probably shared this story with others besides me? Undoubtedly. I repeat my recent mantra regarding generating referrals and word-of-mouth:
What's WORTH Talking About, GETS Talked About
What have YOU done lately to get talked about?
There’s a reason Southwest continues to beat the other airlines in consistency in growth AND profits. Maybe this type of “attitude and attention to detail” is the reason!
One thing the “LUV Voucher” did that many people may not catch… Timothy (your friend) has to come back, for another flight, to use it. AND… Southwest has earned another chance to renew his enthusiasm and loyalty to their company. Mission accomplished!
I think that the reason most companies act like Macy’s is because they are run by “bean counters” and not marketers. The bottom line means more to them than customer loyalty and satisfaction. Some companies I’ve had experience with are headed by people with egos so huge that when they look into the magic mirror, they believe themselves the fairest of them all and they can do no wrong. It’s the customer’s fault, not theirs. Then they wonder why Southwest Airlines is so successful and they aren’t. And they hire more executives to find out which baggage clerk is slacking, because that must be the problem, not the higher-ups watching the bottom line.
I contend that most successful companies (and I define successful as companies people WANT to do business with – not HAVE TO do business with) are companies run by marketers.
I love flying SouthWest Airlines.
Shane has a good point. It reminded me of a hotel I stayed at in the Mid West.
The iron burned my pants. They were old, worn, shorts and I wasn’t too concerned. Stuff happens. I reported the faulty iron to the front desk.
When I spoke with the counter clerk about the iron, I was informed that they were aware of the problem and that all the irons were defective and burning cloths.
I asked why they haven’t been replaced.
Apparently, an accountant, at home office, decided that it would cost too much to replace all the irons at one time, so they were replacing a few a month. All the while, the hotel was gladly reimbursing for cloths as they got burned.
When I heard this, I became frustrated that my old, worn, shorts were burned. I took the reimbusement papers, flew home, bought a new pair of $185 slacks that I didn’t need, used the receipt for reimbursement, then returned the slacks.
The decision was probably made by a MBA grad. who never stepped foot in the lobby of a hotel.
This is a true story, you can’t make this stuff up.
I had a similar experience with Southwest on July 23rd. Our flight was delayed an hour and then (due to weather) we waiting another 2 hours and 45 minutes on the plane before taking off. Southwest flight attendants just gave us free pretzels, peanuts, and stiff drinks. That’s all I needed to make up for the inconvenience.
I had the same thing happen almost 2 years ago, so their behavior is consistent and admirable.
Check out: http://www.rationalsurvivability.com/blog/?p=172 from 2008.
I really appreciated the service.