Southwest Airlines reaps customer satisfaction by keeping it simple. Dogs find a school to help them train for the problems of flying. Don’t we wish we had such lessons? Google glass may be coming to an airport or other customer service systems bringing information and face-to-face contact closer.
Southwest ranks as easiest travel company to deal with
Keep it simple stupid (KISS) is the mantra for salespeople across the world. It is also a goal most successful customer-oriented companies strive to follow. In the airline business, no airline keeps it as simple as Southwest Airlines. They have only about a handful of different prices, they fly one airplane, they don’t clutter the travel experience with scores of ancillary fees and thus, their customers love them.
While the legacy carriers have been crying the bankruptcy blues, Southwest has powered through every year of its existence with a profit. While smaller scrappy carriers like Spirit are contemplating making the already-complex world of fees even more confusing by changing fees according to demand, Southwest is sticking to its basics. Spirit ranks at the bottom of customer service polls (besides this one) and Southwest consistently ranks at the top.
Southwest was the highest-ranked travel company, coming in at No. 9 out of 125 businesses whose brands are well-known in the U.S., according to a survey by New York-based strategic branding firm Siegel + Gale. The low-cost carrier leaped six spots from where U.S.-based respondents ranked it last year. Amazon was No. 1.
The perception that Southwest offers fair prices that don’t dramatically spike because of a host of extra fees being tacked on is key to customers feeling the airline is easy to deal with, says Brian Rafferty, director of global research for Siegel + Gale. “Transparency is one thing Southwest is doing well,” he says, “and people also …feel they have very good service and they care about the customer.”
[Legacy carriers] hovered near the bottom of the U.S. rankings. US Airways came in at 103, American was ranked 105, United was 115 and Delta was 116.
Class helps dogs navigate air travel with a bit more ease
I know, before teaching dogs how to travel, we should focus on humans. However, dogs seem to be more easily trainable. Now, dogs from service animals to family pets can take classes in a special K9 school in Los Angeles. The classes help the animals get used to the bumps, sounds and environment of flying and help the animal’s owners know how to protect them and shield them from uncertainty.
During “K9 Flight School,” the animals are surrounded by the sights and sounds of a real airport, which they’ve never experienced but are well-known to the human traveler.
A cabin simulator bumps and shakes during takeoffs and landings. There’s even a bit of turbulence. The class, which costs $349, is geared toward making flying the friendly skies more comfortable for both the pet and the owner.
“The dogs are with their people, they are with their handlers, so they know how to be happy and safe with them, but if any of the dogs do get nervous or upset, we can remove them immediately, bring them back to a neutral happy spot and then start over,” said teacher Megan Blake.
Easing air travel with Google glass
Ready or not, Google glass and similar products are working their way into customer service. First, computers helped workers find information quickly. Then, hand-held computers allowed agents to roam the airports. Now, wearable computers such as Google glasses are taking portability and accessibility to a new level. These kinds of devices will change the customer service landscape.
In a demonstration at London’s Heathrow Airport, Kevin O’Sullivan, the lead engineer at SITA, a Geneva-headquartered technology consortium owned by the airline industry, donned his Google Glass headset and held up a passenger’s barcoded luggage tag. The device’s camera scanned the barcode, successfully crosschecking it against airport and airline databases, giving agents a real-life solution to quickly locate the whereabouts of a missing bag.
That solution contrasts with today’s situation, where travellers needing help must hunt down the lost-luggage desk that’s staffed by the employees of a specific airline. Wearable technology would give any official roaming an airport the ability to fetch details about a lost bag and travellers could save time by approaching the first representative they saw, regardless of airline affiliation.
If there were a language barrier that made communication with a traveller more difficult, the agent could also request a translation by saying, “OK, Glass: how do you say, ‘Please give me your baggage tag’ in Japanese?”