Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Southwest Airlines Disappoints Customers

Southwest Airlines, an airline known for customer service, just ticked me off.  After a week of R&R in sunny Naples, Florida to recover from a hectic holiday season I was at the Fort Meyers airport awaiting my flight home.  Out of the blue (no pun intended) those of us seated in boarding area D-7 were instructed to move to D-5.  While this was occurring a large group of passengers were settling into the seats we had just vacated. They had just left D-5 and were scheduled to fly to Baltimore.  It seems their plane had a mechanical breakdown and a part had to be flown in from another airport in Florida.  Southwest management decided to give the customers heading to Baltimore our plane and delay our flight for at least three hours (I do not know the actual delay time yet for I am typing this on my I-Pad while smoldering in my seat in section D-5!).  What was their decision making criteria to bump our flight over another?  I can tell you all of the customers seated around me lost some respect for Southwest and that they will now share this story of disappointment with family and friends.

In your business do you disappoint your customers?  If you have to make a decision to disappoint some of them what criteria do you use to choose the unlucky few?  Do you share your decision making process with your customers?  Do you somehow compensate them for the disappointment?  Just saying it is a "business decision" is not enough.  You earn customer loyalty one customer at a time and in this case you can turn them off by the plane load.  If they somehow compensate us for this seemingly unjust business decision I will post an update. 

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