Effective Personal Branding and Customer Service- Southwest Airlines Case Study - Puris Consulting
Effective Personal Branding and Customer Service- Southwest Airlines Case Study

Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: July 10, 2011

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I was recently with a client of mine who travels  a lot for work.  We were talking about her favorite airline and she mentioned how she loves Southwest.  As she started talking about Southwest, her entire demeanor changed- you could totally see her excitement and passion for the airline.  She was smiling and saying how much fun it was to fly again now that she had “found” Southwest. She had stumbled upon them when her preferred, major airline had left her stranded and given her no options or assistance. She had literally walked over to the Southwest counter, where they had booked her in about 5 minutes to her destination AND made her laugh.  After that, she was hooked. She gave up her zillion mile status and her first class seats- all to travel on Southwest and enjoy her constant trips.

To me, this is the perfect example of how the Southwest personal and business brands are a success.  It is all because of customer service. Southwest recently celebrated 40 years of business.  If you look at their mission statement (which my client knows by heart!)- it is a dual statement.  One part of the statement is devoted to clients and one to employees.  The client mission statement is:  “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”

Southwest has literally taken this mission statement and translated it into developing a personal brand for each employee that caters to customer service built on fun and quality.  This personal brand of “fun and quality service” is what my client, as well as many other travelers, remember most about Southwest.  The personal brand is very unique and sets apart the airline from competitors.  Who wouldn’t want good service and fun these days?

As we always say here at Puris, every successful business needs a personal brand that has a unique community service platform.   In terms of personal branding, Southwest has the community service component covered well, also.  According to their website, in 2009, Southwest Airlines employees volunteered more than 45,000 hours to charities across the country. To support these passionate employee volunteers, Southwest Airlines launched the Tickets for Time program. For every 40 hours their employees volunteer for a nonprofit organization, the benefitting nonprofit organization is eligible to receive one complimentary, roundtrip ticket on Southwest Airlines for fundraising or transportation needs.

According to my client, Southwest is “well-designed, yet casual and always has fabulous service”.  On their blog Southwest says that they are in the customer service business and just happen to fly planes.  This says it all, doesn’t it?

What does this mean for your personal brand and your business brand?  Nothing resonates louder for your personal brand and that of your employees than quality customer service done only to serve and create fun and joy in the lives of your customers.  Do you and your staff enjoy servicing your clients?  Is it fun or is it difficult?  Do you all put on your game face and “pretend” to be happy or do you mean it?  We can all see through any insincerity.  It never works.  Hire staff who really like what they do for you and your clients.  I hope you are running a business that you really love, too.

My client is a perfect example of how a business traveler with many options would leave the comforts of first class, priority boarding and extra legroom for good customer service and fun.  Is your customer service fun and effective?  If so, then so is your personal and business brands.


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