southwest is a trailblazer

Southwest Airlines® makes each customer a star with Salesforce.

 
 

Happy employees equal happy customers for Southwest Airlines.

Nationwide competition in the U.S. aviation industry has intensified in recent years, so it’s crucial for carriers to deliver not only affordable airfares, but also exceptional customer experiences and service.

“In an industry like ours, efficiency and hospitality separate the elite companies from the good companies, and our customers deserve an elite experience,” said James Ashworth, Southwest Airlines’ VP, Customer Support & Services.”

Southwest Airlines understood that employee happiness and workplace culture were crucial in evolving its service experience to align more with customer needs. However, as Southwest’s business grew, its caseload grew too and customer service agents were soon busier than ever. The company quickly realized that siloed systems and data, which required agents to switch between screens for a complete view of the customer, were hampering efficiency. Known for its amazing culture and flawless service, Southwest partnered with Salesforce to deliver a solution that would increase efficiency and supercharge employee happiness, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.

Southwest Airlines is a Trailblazer in empowering employees to provide better service.

An early disruptor in the airline industry, Southwest Airlines challenged the idea that air travel was only for the wealthy. Starting in 1971 with just four planes serving three cities in Texas, the airline is now the world’s largest low-cost carrier and one of the most successful carriers in the U.S. The Dallas-based company flies to 100 destinations in 41 states, and 10 other countries. It operates around 4,000 flights a day.

Southwest wanted to ensure that employees were happy and motivated to provide outstanding customer service. So it embarked on a digital transformation journey to modernize service channels, free up service agents’ time for more complex case handling, and unlock the data needed to create better, more meaningful service interactions. It also implemented a new employee engagement app to create an inclusive, fun work environment and empower employees to fulfill their potential.

 
 

Explore the products that are helping Southwest grow.

 
 

Sales Cloud

Drive business growth on the world's #1 sales platform.
 

Service Cloud

Build loyalty with every interaction using complete customer support software.
 

Customer 360 Platform

Tailor our platform with productivity-boosting CRM services.
 

Productivity tools supercharge service capability.

Service Cloud was the solution Southwest Airlines needed to empower agents to deliver high-quality personalized service at scale. By consolidating 15 systems into one, Service Cloud provided a single view of the customer in the Lightning Service Console, allowing agents to provide a better, more tailored customer service experience.

“Sharing customer data across all customer-facing employees and channels helps increase the speed of decision-making, and improves our ability to provide a much more customer-centric experience,” said Ashworth.

The addition of Service Cloud’s In-App Chat means that Southwest’s customers can access help at any time, even at 30,000 feet in the air. Having Chat as a channel also enables agents to handle two cases at once, speeding up resolution of issues and increasing productivity. Since implementation, more than 30% of calls are redirected to chat, and that number is expected to grow. In addition, with AI-powered chatbots, Southwest will enable self-service for customers to get simple answers quickly, while leaving more complex cases to be handled by agents.

Southwest creates an inclusive workplace culture with Service Cloud.

Inclusivity is a core part of Southwest Airlines’ business model. By extending support onto new channels, such as Chat, Southwest strengthened inclusivity. Southwest empowers its agents who are visually impaired by recruiting them to design the agent experience, taking advantage of the built-in accessibility, so that they can be productive and spend more of their time focusing on customers.

“We’re committed to ensuring that all of our tools are accessible,” said Erica Tyler, Southwest Airlines’ Director, Business Strategy & Delivery. “It’s now part of our vetting process for vendors we work with. For employees who are hearing impaired or vision impaired, having a channel to engage with our customers opens more opportunities.”

At the same time, offering support via Chat means that customers who are deaf or hard of hearing can more easily reach out to Southwest for help. The airline plans to add messaging channels like SMS and WhatsApp in the future.

 

Custom apps give central teams nationwide visibility over local activities.

Southwest’s employees are based in multiple locations across the U.S., making it hard for central teams to keep track of local efforts to promote workforce culture. The company’s Culture Services team used Salesforce’s Lightning Platform to build an app to track strategic plans and tactics relating to culture. This allows the team to track, manage, report on, and understand engagement efforts across the country. The company can also track employee satisfaction. By using the platform, Southwest has saved around $2.8 million annually on human resources services.

Other teams that use Salesforce’s development environment — which doesn’t require advanced programming skills — include the Tech Ops group. It built a custom application that allows it to track parts requests from the maintenance hangars and route them through a workflow process to various departments.

Market insights and tools level the playing field for sales.

Southwest Airlines’ corporate and cargo sales teams use Sales Cloud to track accounts, leads, activities, and opportunities for business customers. Leveraging Sales Cloud has helped the company gain a better understanding of what it needs to do to secure healthy margins. It also gives sales teams the tools they need to level the playing field against larger national airlines and gain market share.

Once signed on, new business customers receive welcome and onboarding emails through Pardot, Salesforce’s B2B marketing automation platform. “By partnering with Salesforce, we were able to elevate our goals,” said Tyler. “In addition to a strong partnership and shared commitment to excellence, we now have a powerful platform that can serve in multiple capacities across our organization.”

 

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