Southwest Airlines has long been known for it’s great customer service. But what really sets the airline apart from other carriers is its ability to provide customers with more than they expect.
Your minimal expectation of any airline is that they get you from point A to point B safely and on time. Southwest does this, and has an excellent safety record, but it goes one better by interjecting a bit of fun into the in-flight experience. Pilots and flight attendants tell jokes, and while most airlines have stopped giving our complimentary food, Southwest still provides free peanuts and even hands out snack boxes on longer flights.
I’ve long been a member of the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. Unlike other frequent flyer plans, Southwest has no blackout dates, and they do something very unexpected: each year they send me a birthday card, with thanks for being a member.
Last year I decided to get a Southwest Airlines Visa card, largely because the sign-up offer was so enticing: enough points for roughly eight free roundtrip flights. That alone was a great deal. But this month, one day after getting a bill for the renewal in the mail, something unexpected arrived: a card from Southwest, offering me $50 off my next Business Select fare. On top of that, I was offered 3,000 bonus points for renewing.
All of these seem pretty minor on the surface, and don’t cost the airline much. Peanuts are pretty cheap, but a rarity on most airlines these days. The birthday card probably costs less than $1 to print and mail, and giving $50 off a Business Select fare (which is generally overpriced to begin with) still results in a profitable transaction for Southwest. Mostly importantly, all of these extras add up to help instill a feeling of loyalty, in this case for both the credit card and the airline in general.
Now it’s your turn. What are some small ways you can give your customers more than they expect? You’d be amazed at how unexpected surprises—even the tiniest ones—can really delight those who receive them.