An Exclusive Look Inside the Southwest Airlines Listening Center

Almost every airline in the world is now on social media platforms, majorly to handle customer care queries efficiently, and also to engage their customers (present and future) in a conversation — ultimately designed to market their products and services. Every airline has its own way of doing it, and Southwest is one that especially stands out. Recently, we got to witness “The Southwest Way” first hand during a tour of their Listening Center.

Our CEO, Shashank Nigam, spoke to Ashley Petit, Social Media Lead at Southwest Airlines to understand how they go about interacting with their customers and add their special touch to it.

Social Business Strategy

Southwest Airlines was an early adopter of social media. Considering the brand prides itself on being transparent and friendly, social comes naturally to them. The practice has evolved over the years to include customer service, marketing, and in the words of Ashley, “storytelling”. Southwest wants to be on social media channels that are meaningful to customers, and in ways that are important.

Although the Social Media Listening Center is located at Dallas, Texas (at their corporate headquarters), the social media team operates with a hub and spoke model. The Social Business Hub itself leads the strategy part, assisted by marketing, communications and the customer relations department.

Watch our conversation with Ashley below, followed by an exclusive look inside Southwest Airlines listening center.


Touring the Listening Center

As we started the tour of the listening center, it became clear to us why it is much more than a typical Social Media outpost. Three screens were specifically monitoring real-time industry related conversations on social platforms, tracking news developments and key social media indicators.

Southwest tracks and compares sentiment on social media for its own brand versus the industry at large. Tweets that mention Southwest in anyway are scrutinised to check if a customer needs help somewhere. The staff employed have the authority to actually resolve issues and address them before they become problematic for customers e.g. rebooking missed connections.

Watch our exclusive tour of the listening center below:

Vishal Mehra

Vishal Mehra

Vishal Mehra was leading Social and Digital marketing efforts at SimpliFlying from January 2015 to January 2016. A self-confessed commercial aviation geek, Vishal had led digital marketing campaigns at leading global agencies for 9 years, before finding his dream job at the intersection of aviation and digital marketing. His interests include Travelling, Technology, Podcasts (long before Serial arrived) and Beer.
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