Southwest Airlines: How to fly through turbulence

Share this content:
Southwest Airlines: How to fly through turbulence
Southwest Airlines: How to fly through turbulence

Ever since the Aug. 3 Southwest Airlines “glitch” (you know, the little bookings slip-up that resulted in various customers receiving more than 20 duplicate flight reservations), the airline has dealt with a pile-up of customer baggage. But instead of spiraling into a tailspin, Southwest demonstrated superb damage control by acknowledging its faults and addressing consumers directly via social media.

“We certainly recognize that we're not perfect,” says Southwest's VP of communications Linda Rutherford. “[But], it's how you work with the customer when something goes less than stellar.”

The booking error occurred the morning of Friday, August 3, after Southwest reached 3 million Facebook followers. In celebration of the milestone, the airline offered a 50% discount for select flights. By late Friday afternoon, Southwest discovered the duplicate bookings and turned to social media to settle the turbulence.

“We don't filter out things if they're not positive,” Rutherford says. “We believe in the transparency of social media. Thankfully, it was through those social media channels that we realized that we had an issue.”

Throughout the weekend Southwest kept its clients updated through Facebook, Twitter, and messages on the company's homepage. The airline also sent an email to those hit by the booking error explaining the mishap and attaching a $150 voucher, Rutherford says. Southwest intends to refund those overcharged and pay any overdraft fees caused by the incident.

Southwest is renowned for its customer service; in fact, it received the JD Power Customer Service Champion award this year, according to the airline's website. Hence, maintaining its high level of customer satisfaction during this crisis was crucial, and Southwest piloted through the storm beautifully.

Customers are willing to forgive an organization when it fumbles, but only if they see results of progressive change. By keeping its clients in the loop, Southwest showed its customers that the issue was being handled. Clearly, allowing customers to vent via the airline's social media platform made Southwest vulnerable to ridicule, but it also served as a fast and cost-effective way to ensure that customers were receiving information about the situation and any related refunds--providing both the airline and the consumers with a first-class problem solving solution.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

Bookmark this section and follow our RSS Feed here


Next Article in Customer Experience

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above