Every business is a service business.

We apply the tools that make service businesses stronger through better strategy, innovation, marketing and day-to-day management.

Thank you for joining the conversation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get to know me: Southwest Airlines

A Service experience arrived in the mail today.

I recently flew my 16th southwest leg, granting me a Rapid Rewards ticket for a free flight, and initiating an entire set of service encounters. Two things make the reward experience better than their competitors:

The first is the beautiful simplicity of the Rapid Rewards program. Sixteen legs is easier to remember (and aim for) than accruing 25,000 miles (is it 30,000?) in any other airline’s reward system. I always know when I need two more legs for a ticket on Southwest, but I never know when I only need 1,200 more miles for a competitor ticket. So, Southwest gets the business whenever I’m close.

Second, they tell me when I have receive reward. Twice. It’s like they actually want me to use it, rather than have it sit unnoticed and unused until the term expires.

The first communication was an immediate email, congratulating me on my ticket, while the second was a letter. Now of course both were filled with cross-promotions I didn’t look at, but the letters are filled with congratulations, genuine auto-generated gratitude, and a prize (drink tickets) to “hold me over”.

Most special, the letter contained a small customized element, suggesting that I use a drink ticket to treat myself to a “Lo-Carb Monster energy drink” the next time I flew. Not coincidentally, a lo-carb Monster was the only drink I actually paid for during the 16 flights that resulted in my ticket.

Now, I could see how this tactic could backfire if it wasn’t carefully considered, (“Treat your self to four Bloody Mary’s next time you’re on the late flight from Chicago to St. Louis!”) but as it was, the suggestion was benign and demonstrated that they were at least watching how I act in their environment in the hopes of serving me better, so that I buy more of their travel experience.

Exceptional service companies use information and technology as an enabler of the service promise and using customer information to provide a more customized experience is an often attempted / seldom successful form of doing so. Southwest excels at it. Who else do you know that "gets it"? How have you seen them use technology / information to better deliver on their brand / service promise?

No comments: