An incredible customer experience: Southwest

Since 2011, I’ve come to love flying Southwest Airlines because of the good fares, their friendliness and lack of stuffiness, no hidden fees, and their ease of changing flights. Things change at a drop of the hat here at work when traveling to see customers, and the flexibility they offer is helpful. Most of our customer success team flies Southwest, and most of us also rock the Southwest credit card (including myself).

This year as I’ve moved away from “owning” customers myself, I’ve traveled a little less than other years because of my Director of Operations role for our growing Customer Success team. I still travel to see customers and travel for fun (my TripIt tells me 21 flights/trips this year, it’s still a good amount), but it lessened this year which is probably good for my sanity.

Traveling with TSA-Pre and A-list makes for a traveling baseline, you don’t want to be without. I noticed I was shy a few points of achieving A-list this year and ensuring it rolls into 2016.

I spoke with someone at Southwest and upgraded one of my flights for a bit more, that would get me right to where I need to be. Ironically, I had two flights to see customers in December that helped ensure this accolade.

Then Denver had a snowstorm this week. My flight to the East coast was canceled. The Denver airport had almost 500 canceled flights on Wednesday.

We tried rescheduling but not everyone on my team could make it with the short time constraint we needed to arrive by, or with other airline options, the same day cost was astronomical. I hunkered down in the snow at home and we made the internal adjustments and onsite rearrangements that sometimes only weather can derail.

Then I realized, I’m 200 points shy of A-list without that flight!

And the only other way to get there, is to TAKE a flight before the end of the year OR purchase more points, which the lowest I could purchase were 2500, well above what I wanted and a hefty price. With the holidays next week and a (road trip) home for it, the flight wasn’t going to happen either.

In one last attempt, I took to Twitter. I tweeted to @SouthwestAir, they’ve always been incredibly responsive and I was curious if there were an option to purchase less points (I was willing to!) or if they had any ideas.

In less than an hour I had a response from Manuel.

I explained the situation and asked if they had any ideas. Here’s his DM response:

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I went back to work while the snow fell outside. I was already impressed at their response.

Then, in the completely timely fashion he promised, Manuel followed up with the greatest news below:

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I was floored.

I’m in the business of client services, retaining customers, ensuring their happiness, and going above and beyond. I know it isn’t easy. I also know as a consumer and frequent traveler, there’s a lot of crappy service out there in general, so although my standards are high I’m usually underwhelmed.

I’m also aware that Southwest get hundreds and hundreds of tweets a day on Twitter alone. There’s a lot of juggling happening.

Manuel took the initiative, got creative with my unique request, found the right people in the timeframe he said he would, and probably saw that I have been a consistent customer, spent a lot of money with them, and wanted to continue to do so with A-list as I was just 200 points away.

This is what differentiates good from great.

I was happy with Southwest before, but I am a loyalist for life now.

I didn’t expect this response, so they truly delighted and wowed me. Sometimes little adjustments on the side of the brand can mean the world to the customer, and those that know the difference between those “adjustments” make the real impact. I know for sure I won’t forget this. I’m telling everyone I know, and I can’t thank Manuel and the Southwest team enough.

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