16 March 2008

"Delivering Proactive Customer Service" Southwest

Southwest has been severely slapped over the maintenance issues regarding inspections in older model Boeing 737s in its fleet. It ended up grounding several planes on March 12th and providing some disruptions to its regular operations.

Coincidentally I actually flew that day on Southwest. As I opened the in-flight magazine my eye was drawn to the lead piece from Colleen Barrett, President of WN. The title was "Delivering Proactive Customer Service".

At the end of the day - I did get interrupted and yes my flights were late - ending up over an hour late at my destination. As an LCC - Southwest relies on its customers to make their own decisions. In my case - specifically it could have done a better job to help me make a decision. Take the connection or wait for the next direct (but stopping) flight. Was Southwest proactive? Actually no. Nor for many other passengers who were in a similar situation. For Southwest, there is a lesson here. Pass on that "Proactive" attitude to the local teams. They have the ability to make something happen and they could actually do something about helping passengers make good decisions.

Lets hope that WN learns something from this experience. It definitely needs to arm its customers with better information and better capability to know the extent of the issues facing it.

One other thing I noted. The legendary pitch in and help spirit seems to be taking a back seat. There were 2 SWA employees (flight crews) who were sitting around waiting for pass rider travel. Neither stepped in to help. They could have and should have. Perhaps if the passengers had been more restless they would have.



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