Lessons from the Southwest Airlines CX Disaster

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We just witnessed the Southwest Airlines holiday meltdown of 2022.

Due to winter storms, 60% of Southwest’s December flights were canceled, leaving over one million customers were affected. The debacle that ensued can be attributed primarily to Southwest’s Direct Route Model as opposed to the Hub and Spoke Model that most of the other airlines use. Additionally, antiquated technology made it hard to mobilize pilots and staff along other flight routes.

That’s what went wrong.

Now, with the help of Brannon Stacy, Global Business Development Manager at Fusion, let’s take a closer look at what Southwest did right.

[ 4:55 – 6:37 ] Southwest representatives despite feeling helpless, managed to connect with the customer and ease their frustration. They showed a high level of respect, allowing customers to finish speaking. They apologized and they were transparent.

[ 7:53 – 9:05 ] Taking another step back, here are 4 things that helped Southwest ride out the crisis: teamwork, partnership with the airport, facing challenges, and overcoming the obstacles in front of them. Truthfully, they defied all odds, and in the end, they lived their mission statement.

[ 13:48 – 15:41 ] What kind of training would it require to maintain your mission statement in a time of crisis? Here’s how agents can speak transparently to an upset customer when they don’t have an answer. Our culture wants so badly to hear good news, but isn’t the truth more important? We should not just placate the customer in order to fake a short term, positive interaction.

[ 20:16 – 21:12 ] We can all learn from Southwest here. We all need to make sure we have the right tools and technology to prevent these kinds of situations.

[24:27 – 25:26 ] As an agent, it would be tempting to throw in the towel in the face of so few answers for so many unhappy customers, but instead, a great agent will still try to connect with the customer on a human level.

Does your mission statement shine through on an average day? What about in a time of crisis? Once the crisis happens, the time for training is past, and if agents can embody the mission statement in a time of crisis, that’s an excellent reflection on senior leadership.

To listen to a recording of this and other episodes, visit vistio.io/podcasts. And to join our show live each week, go to vistio.io/cxlive.

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