With economy down, customer service can put you on top

While some airline companies are nickel-and-diming their customers with the economy down, others like Southwest airlines refuse to charge for peanuts and keep their focus on superior customer service.

I came across a post today (I admit it was the picture that caught my eye) on Church of the Customer about how Southwest Airlines is dealing with recent negative industry news by focusing on their core values.

The picture is of a man holding a “birthday cake” his innovative Southwest crew created on his fight to Baltimore. The birthday cake was creatively made from a roll of toilet paper, topped with candles and a SWA happy birthday message. The passengers even sang him “Happy Birthday” during the flight. How’s that for in-flight entertainment?

Though times may be bad in the airlines industry, Southwest has stayed focused on customer service and has come out on top. While keeping fuel costs under control has helped tremendously, Southwest Airlines does hold the U.S. title for being the only profitable airline during the first quarter of the year. They are even considering growing their fleet and have no plans to charge for extra bags or in-flight beverages.

According to Herb Kelleher, Southwest’s president and chief executive officer, taking good care of customers is a top priority. He has said,

“We are not an airline with great customer service. We are a great customer service organization that happens to be in the airline business,”

It’s a great lesson in customer service during a time when including “great customer service” and “airline industry” together in the same sentence can be a tough thing to do.

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