Southwest Airlines shares how they build magical customer moments

Becky Doles

If you’ve been at this mobile marketing gig for a while, it’s no surprise that mobile engagement is the way to win customers and increase revenues. We’ve all heard the numbers — a positive mobile experience makes 67% of customers more likely to buy a product, and 74% more likely to return for a second shopping experience.  But how to do it … that’s the part everyone seems to get stuck on. Chief Marketing Officer of Southwest Airlines Kevin Krone took the mainstage at Postback 17 to help clear it up for us, and share some of the secret sauce behind how Southwest Airlines — known for being especially celebrated by customers — thinks about the mobile experience.

Watch the video on YouTube, or at the bottom of this post after reading.

Context is king

As mobile marketers, our goal should be to answer a customer’s question, before they even ask it. Kevin explains that there are three questions you should ask yourself to dig in:

  • What do you know?
  • Why did your customer just open the app?
  • Now what do you do?

If, in Southwest’s case, they know a customer’s name (Kevin), location (on the way to the airport), purchase history (they bought a flight), and time (it takes off in two hours), then they probably have a pretty good idea why the customer opened the app (to check-in or get gate information). Instead of opening to a one-size-fits-all screen that makes a customer login and self-direct to the option they want, an optimal experience would be greeting Kevin by name on a check-in screen. That way, the customer may have had an idea of what they were going into the app before, but before they’re even able to ask for it, Southwest presents it to them.

Be an omnivore of customer data

“The customer is really giving us a lot of valuable clues and a lot of valuable data. They are telling us every day what matters to them by their interactions and behaviors with us. If we just simply pay attention, we can learn a lot and actually anticipate. They’re telling us what they want — so we don’t even have to guess,” Krone said.

In the model he uses at Southwest, Krone said the customer is at the center of the equation. On one side, Southwest focuses on customer intelligence strategies like brand, engagement, and product. On the other side, they focus on technology enablement tools like digital, social and third party technologies, and IT integrations.

“Don’t forget that the customer is at the middle of the model, and what it is that they want in an experience is what we should be providing and delivering. A lot of times we get in our four walls of our offices and we build what we think they want, or what we think would be cool, and that’s not exactly the right formula for success.”

If you can’t do it all, start with one thing right away

Krone urged the audience, “My advice to you is to get going. Because this data, and learning from it, is so critical. And if you can’t do it all — and again there’s a lot to do, I understand that — but take some steps, even if it’s just as simple as making sure you have a vehicle to collect data from your employees. Do something right away, even if it’s just a baby step to get you going down that road, so you can create those app experiences and mobile experiences that leads to that engagement.”

30 billion opportunities a day to make raving fans

In closing, Krone noted that the average person interacts with their mobile device 150-200 times per day. That adds up to 30 billion mobile moments a day in the U.S. alone that are up for the taking.

“Once you start this process, what you’re gonna find is you’re gonna move from an environment where you have customers, and maybe even you get repeat customers — but you’re gonna move to an environment where you have raving fans who love you and your brand, and can’t live without you. And when you get raving fans, then you’re going to have great financial results.”

Want to watch the full video? Catch it on YouTube or click play below.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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