Southwest to personalize e-mail, mobile for flight delay communications

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Southwest Airlines will add personalization this summer to its e-mail and mobile customer service initiatives, which notify consumers about flight delays and cancellations.

The feature will let consumers choose when and how they receive messages from the airline, as well as language. Southwest, aided by mobile firm Varolii, began sending real-time e-mails and texts in January.

“This self-service play is proactive and gets people the information they need before having to call into the call center,” said Kael Kelly, senior director at Varolii.

Southwest has sent 5.5 million messages since launching the service.

“Prior to this, passengers would see a flight change or cancellation on the reader board at the airport, and that is not a great experience, especially for someone who had to get up early and come to the airport,” Kelly added.

Southwest's goal is to improve customer service and reduce wait times through its call center, he said. Passengers can also use text, e-mail and an automated phone center to change flights.

“The downstream effect is that airport agents have smaller lines and the wait times for the call center have gone down, which leads to a better customer experience," said Kelly.

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