With summer vacations wrapping up and the holidays just around the corner, travel season seems to stretch year-round. Airlines are always competing to find new and better ways to advertise their lowest fares, and convenience is a major benefit of making flight reservations online. However, in the beginning of August, Southwest had an online sale that was so well-received it actually caused their website serious performance issues. As a result of this technology glitch, several customers were charged more than once for their flight reservations. Someone even told me their credit card was charged 14 times while taking advantage of the limited time offer. Instead of letting this headache turn into a nightmare, Southwest demonstrated how to provide exemplary customer service when most necessary.
Without any media pressure, Southwest immediately sent all affected customers a “LUV voucher” for $150. LUV vouchers can be used toward a future Southwest ticket purchase, and they are even transferable to another person—which is virtually unheard of in the world of airline vouchers. Additionally, Southwest requested that customers fax them a copy of any fees incurred by the disruption and extra processing (such as overdraft fees), and they would refund the amount.
This is an excellent example of why Southwest is a leader in customer service and is so reliable and consistently profitable. By heading off and diffusing the issue before complaints began rolling in, Southwest was able to retain customers and keep them happy. This is a great lesson to keep in mind.
-By Berbay Principal Sharon Berman