Those of us old enough to remember the good old days of flying can't believe that today's new leader in customer service and experience is (drumroll) Southwest Airlines!
If you read my recent post about Southwest, you may have seen the comments from others who had similar positive experiences with SWA. Isn't it interesting that an airline mostly known for cheap fares is now known for customer service?
Flying is no longer luxurious. Flight attendants are all too often surly. Flights are all too often delayed and cancelled. If you miss a connection, you will likely have great difficulty getting another any time soon.
Being in an airline's Frequent Prisoner program doesn't help much anymore, either. I've now got over FIVE million miles on American Airlines. I recently purchased an "Instant Upgrade" ticket, which costs a LOT more than their lowest fare. When I missed my connection in Chicago, the supposed "Elite Desk" agent said I would get a middle coach seat on the next available flight. She went on to tell me I couldn't even be put on the upgrade standby list, despite my ticket, my inconvenience, and my status. When pressed for an explanation, all she could do was repeat, "Well, you didn't REALLY buy a higher level ticket," over and over.
Yesterday's success couldn't matter less. The big airlines used the own the skies and heavy travelers, like me, appreciated the perks and bonuses. Something like 20 years ago, American flew a group of us to the British Isles for a week of golf. First class all the way. All I had to buy was my beer. Now American charges for pillows. Southwest Airlines rules the skies now and I remember when Herb Kelleher said their main competition was Greyhound Bus. I've GOT to believe Greyhound is better than most airlines now.
This is an important lesson for all of us. First, if you're #1, don't get cocky. Be paranoid. Keep fighting as if tomorrow depends on it. (It does.)
If you're not #1, be like Southwest. Take care of your customers. Do the right thing. Keep innovating. And when #1 stumbles, as they so often do, you'll be there to take their place.
And don't charge me for a pillow.
How True! I would rather fly Southwest than any of the other airlines.
It just goes to show you how the longer a company is in business, the more it goes for cost cutting practices that sometimes cut corners. It is all in a bid to increase the market value of the stock price. The bottom line is king to CEOs. Large corporations know this and throw things like customer perks and services out the window for net income.
As always, great stuff. I continually shout “It’s the customer experience that is the core asset of your business.” And there is ALWAYS an experience – good, bad or indifferent. What experience will we provide to those we come in contact with today?
Just wrote about this at: http://www.restaurantmarketingblog.com/index.php/weblog/restaurant_marketing_what_about_the_adults/ —
Recently on one of my many Southwest flights this past month, while on-board and delayed at the gate, the pilot invited kids to come up and look at the cockpit. Can you imagine what a great experience this is for kids?
But get this—after the kids, had their turn, the pilot invited the adults up to the cockpit. It was a mad rush, and what an experience! The lesson? We adults like to see how things work also!
The title even pertains to Southwest, JetBlue replaced them as #1 in low cost carriers JD Powere 2010 Overall Satisfaction survey. As business models evolve competitors enter and strive to redesign the market. My first thought of Southwest is cattle call – my first thought of JetBlue is tv’s in the seats. Both go after lowcost market but JetBlue being later into the market sold a different bang for the buck.
Southwest is having to change now that their model is the norm, the customer naturally starts raising their expectations.
I like the post – and the comments too. The adults being told they can check out the cock pit – that’s great!
Now I’m really glad I tore up that “Visa reward miles” card that was mailed to me that offered free miles on American Airlines. Those seem to be more work than reward these days. I’ll keep my “cashback card.” 😉