It is 2012 and once again Southwest Airlines had the lowest consumer complaint rate with 0.32 complaints per 100,000 passengers. How does Southwest, one of the most successful and profitable US Airlines, stay so popular?
For one, Southwest Airlines’ mission is
dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.
Already implied in the motto: customer service is their 1st priority. If you want to have happy customers, you need happy employees! If the employees are truly satisfied they will naturally be supporting, friendly and simply provide good service to the customer.
Now what does an appealing customer service include?
- Low fare tickets
- Point – to – point flights
- Free luggage
- incl. quality refreshments
- On time departure and arrival
- Friendly flight attendants
Southwest Airlines’ customer service is often being described as one of a kind. They highly advertise their “bags fly free” policy and provide short haul, direct flights and low-price tickets – so everything customers want! On top of all that, Southwest Airlines adds a little humor in accordance with the motto: Time flies when you are having fun. The idea of humorous flight attendants is exactly what makes Southwest Airlines so special – their cheap tickets attract customers and their friendly staff keeps them coming back!
Still improving their extraordinary customer service, Southwest Airlines has introduced a new Rapid Rewards program which helps customers earn more points on the flights they book. Doesn’t sound that special yet, does it? The great thing about this new points-saving program is that customers do not have to worry about blackout dates or seat restrictions, which means that they can use their points for any flight.
Would it be possible to transfer this business idea of customer service to Germany?
There are a few low-budget airlines, such as Ryanair and Jetblue. They too provide rather short haul service but neither of them offers free luggage. Snacks are not included in the price and their flight attendants are sufficient bordering on mediocrity. So far, Germans connect “cheap” with bad quality in service and maintenance, which is fatal to the low-budget Airline industry.
Let’s look at another American company that tried to be successful in Germany but failed. Hooters opened its first restaurant in Neunkirchen in 2005. Their idea is to sell food – mainly French fries and burgers – with sex. Girls in orange shorts and tight white shirts with the slogan “Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined” on them will welcome you and serve you your meals. Why wasn’t Hooters a success in Germany when it is so popular in the U.S.? Some professionals claim that Germans will go to Fast Food chains, such as McDonalds and Burger King, if they want a burger. We do not associate a full-service restaurant with chicken wings, burgers and fries. Other researchers also suggest that Hooters failed in Germany because their business model of sexy waitresses was not that outrageous to German customers. They reason that nudity is more widely accepted in Germany. We simply do not get as excited to see scantily dressed women.
So what about Southwest Airlines’ joking flight attendants?
From personal experience I can say that Germans are rather reserved towards service personnel. We feel pressured to buy something when being offered help at a store and confused if the friendly waitress asks us how we are doing today. So it is questionable if Germans would feel comfortable with such a – in our eyes – overly friendly crew.
I mean, what could be better than an airplane company which gets its passengers to their destination when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and makes sure they have a good time doing so?!