Aspiring Business Leaders Worldwide

How Southwest Airlines Creates the Ultimate Customer Experience

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A woman with Down syndrome, Tracy Sharp never knew that her little conversation with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, Vicki Heath could make a difference in her life. Tracy told Heath that her dream was to be a flight attendant, admiring the Southwest employee’s position. And guess what! - A revelation of how to make customers happy.

Heath did just the coolest thing none could imagine. She made the arrangement for Tracy to join her as an assistant flight attendant on her next flights. You won’t believe how cool that went for Tracy.

Southwest Tracy Airlines

Tracy Sharp always wanted to be a flight attendant and when Southwest Airlines employee Vickie Heath found out she made her dreams come true. Tracy was able to be a flight attendant for the day with Vickie.

Most business leaders clearly understand that their success depends on how happy their customers are, to pay for their goods and services and a prolific strategy of making them come back as long as they need that service. But many of them are yet to realize that achieving customer happiness (customers willing to do more business with you) depends on employee happiness. Hence, the focus should be on your employees, not making customers happy.

Happy Employees Make Happy Customers!

It’s absolutely simple. Happy employees make happy customers. Tracy’s story is just one of many other stories of how Southwest Airlines employees go beyond service to care about their customers. There is no magic in getting there or any other rule on how to make customers happy. It has to do with how happy your employees are. When your employees are happy, they are more likely to create good memories for others, mostly your customers.

Here are some insights on how to achieve an employee-focused culture -

Show employees that you support them: Business leaders must depend on healthy interaction with their employees for their development and ability to interact well with customers. Feedback and recognition are both necessary. They must also rely on a healthy, caring and supportive work environment to boost the level of customer experience.

Southwest Airlines

Support inspiring employee development: Employees want to learn they have opportunities ahead of them if they improve. Talk about their options and where they could be in the future at the company and how they can get there. This inspires them to provide unique service to your customers knowing they stand to achieve more ahead.


Create a fun work environment: Creating fun at the workplace could mean creating a positive work environment where employees are comfortable to be part of. Your employees must feel fulfilled with their employment like Heath before they can engage others with happiness. She wouldn’t have tried to bring in Tracy if Southwest Airlines doesn’t support a fun work environment.

Reward and recognize them: It is understood that Southwest Airlines has a special way of recognizing the employees but every office must operate based on laid down work policies. Establishing a reward program to recognize your employees is a huge motivational factor. They will be encouraged to give in more than ordinary service to customers they engage with.

The most promising route on how to make customers happy is to focus on the employees. Highlighting on the success story of Southwest Airlines, co-founder Herb Kelleher recalled being asked who should come first among business shareholders, employees, and customers. His response was always a heresy. Employees treat the outside world right when they are treated right, that brings back more customers, which makes the shareholders happy, Kelleher said. Indeed, happy employees make happy customers and shareholders.

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