I LUV (yes, LUV) to spin a yarn about the nightmare of flying. I wear my “woe-is-me-for-sitting-5-hours-in-a-middle-seat” like a badge of honor. So, naturally, when I prepared to fly Southwest Airlines with two children on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I was ready for a doozy of a travel tale. But I landed at each destination feeling…happy. Damn you, Southwest Airlines! At 5 am on New Year’s Eve, I walked through the doors of the St. Louis airport and was greeted by a Southwest employee with a hearty, “Happy New Year!” A pleasant agent checked my bag. While I snaked through the long line to security, a friendly employee was on hand to check and see who was running late for their flight. And as much as I want to complain about that numerical pre-boarding line up, I can’t. It’s fast and efficient. Flight attendants were cheerful and…GASP…helpful as people boarded with their giant bags of holiday loot. The pilot shared information freely – from the reasons behind our slight delay to the names of lakes and mountains we saw out our windows. They wished a couple of travelers “happy birthday” and seemed genuine as they invited people to come back and fly Southwest again.
I exited the aircraft a little deflated without my usual battle-weary travel tale, but I felt good about my flight because of the many employees I encountered all along the way. Southwest Airlines’ employees curated a happy travel experience. It wasn’t the mod planes or the funky terminal or the bento-shaped snack packs that made the difference in my day. It was the people.
Out of curiousity, I looked at the Company’s Mission Statement.
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service, delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and Company Spirit.
Check, check, and check.
On that same page where I found the company mission, CEO Gary Kelly says, “Our people are our single greatest strength and our most enduring longterm competitive advantage.”
So as you build your brand, you may want to look around and ask yourself, “Are my employees curating the *right* experience for my customers?”
David was my flight attendant on my last Southwest flight. And it was fun, damnit.