Thursday, July 13, 2006

Southwest Airlines: I wish I could quit you

I just booked a flight to Chicago for a little getaway next weekend. I'm so dang excited.

Anyway, I redeemed a Southwest reward for my ticket and it's one of the "new kinds" that adheres to a limited seating policy. Naturally, the return flights available weren't going to work with my schedule, so I called to see if there was any way around the rule. There wasn't. I either had to leave early Sunday (pointless) or stay another night (perfectly fine with me!).

And just as I started thinking: "Wait, there's never anything wrong with SWA, now they go and screw me on seating?! Me! A REWARD member, and thus a good, loyal customer. I have BLOGGED ABOUT THE AIRLINE! This can't happen...." the nice customer service man said something along the lines of: "You know, this rule is bad. We have a lot of access to our senior management and we argued this rule forever...." he was sincere and kept going.

"This is a great company - I love working here, but this issue has been debated. It even messes up the employees' flight perks." And that was nice...whatever...he was being honest and exposing much more than other airline customer service operators would even think to expose...then he said something that reminded me of why I love Southwest.

"This is no good. I'm sorry. I can't do anything for you, but I think you should just stay one more night and have fun after your meetings." (My big story was that I was presenting at a conference all day Sunday and couldn't head out until late - so I lied). And that's all I needed. The rule wasn't his fault. He couldn't do anything, but in the process he made sure I knew two things:
1) The rub behind the rule, i.e. I'm not alone in my frustration and SWA is discussing it.
2) He cared when he didn't have to.

Done. I'm happy. Extra time in Chicago, I'm back in time for work Monday, and I printed my ticket confirmation with the same admiration for the Southwest brand as when I logged on to reserve my tickets.


Blogger Sara said...

YAY! I am so excited. Chicago in the summer is the best.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Paul Arnhold said...

That is the difference with SWA... they care about their customers, and more importantly for their brand, they care about their reputation. People can gripe about the cattle herd all they want, but I'll take SWA's awesome frequent flyer program in exchange for the slight inconvenience any day of the week!

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Chris Heuer said...

This is so important for more companies to understand - by being human instead of citing company policy ad nauseum, it creates quite a differenet experience and an incredibly different brand expression. I have had conversations with CSR's about 'being a human being' way too many times now. Good to know that Southwest lets all their employees keep it real.

2:58 PM  

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