“I’ll take that trash for you sir; would you like more coffee?”
Simultaneously shocked and delighted at my flight attendants question, I smile and replied, “oh no thanks mam!”
Flying with Southwest Airlines on a recent trip was a delightful experience. Their prices were unbeatable, airline attendants were friendly and personable, the company was present on various social networks online (so customers could chat with them), and they even offered snacks and free coffee (with free refills)!
Even before I flew with Southwest, my friends were even raving about the company: “Oh, I always fly Southwest; I love that airline!”; “Southwest is the best airline to fly; definitely fly Southwest.”
There’s a lot that you and I can learn about business and work from flying with Southwest Airlines.
Here are three lessons from Southwest Airlines that will help you, your work, and your organization:
1 – You produce your best work when you enjoy your work
When you fly with Southwest Airlines, you get that vibe that, “it’s fun to work for this airline company.” You can tell they enjoy their work by the way they treat their customers, their advertising, colors, commercials, awesome prices, employee behavior, on-flight napkins, and their social networks. They even call themselves the “LUV Airline.”
A key factor in doing great work is doing work you enjoy – doing work that you passionately care about and can actually say, “this is fun!”
I remember talking one time with a lady at Walgreens who was a flight attendant for Southwest. She told me, “oh their a great company to work for! If you can get a job with them it’s worth it.”
I believe this is one reason Southwest Airlines does so well as a company: the employees seriously enjoy working for the organization. And because they enjoy working for Southwest, the company does better work overall. Plain and simple.
Can you say that, overall, you enjoy what you do? Do your employees enjoy working for you? Are you excited and thrilled to be doing the work that you do? I know for me personally, I do better work when I enjoy the work.
Do work you enjoy and you will do better work. Make sure your employees enjoy working for you and they will do better work too.
2 – Personality enhances the brand
Southwest Airlines has personality infused throughout their business.
If you read their blog, they immediately stand out with their personality. (You can meet their entire blogging team on their blog.) When your in person talking with a Southwest employee, you don’t get a sense that they hate the company or that they hate helping you. The gate attendant happily answered my questions, the flight attendant gladly refilled my coffee, and even their mobile app makes me want to use it! The company is friendly, caring, personable, and even funny! (Or in other words, they have personality.)
From the employees to the blog to the mobile app to the commercials and down to the actual aircraft design, they’ve got personality infused into their brand.
So often when I go to the bank or the store, I feel like I’m being talked at rather than talked to. I’m a person (and prospective customer) who wants to have a conversation, not someone who wants a unsolicited offer thrown at their face. When I read books, I prefer to read books where I feel like I’m talking with the author, not being talked at. (This is why so many academic books are boring: they are lofty, abstract, non-conversational, and wooden.)
Personality is vital to any brand, whether a company, organization, church, or author because it adds a human element which builds connection with prospects and customers. This connect builds trust which makes people feel better about doing business with you. (No one likes working with people they don’t trust.)
Do you let your personality come through in your work? Is there a culture in your organization (organizational personality) that employees and customers see? Having personality – that isn’t harmful or crude – can help humanize your brand and make prospects and customers more ready to do business with you.
3 – Actively participate in social media (be where your customers are)
I love the fact that I can compliment (or complain) about a company when I have a good (or bad) experience with them.
When you fly with Southwest, you get quality prices, free drink and snacks onboard, the freedom to pick your seat, and an overall enjoyable experience. This makes customers want to share the experience with their friends and connect with Southwest online. (This blog post is an example of that.)
Surprisingly, there are many companies, organizations, and people not using social media to promote their work.
If you are doing remarkable work that people appreciate, social media can help spread your brand further, because your customers will talk about you. (And if there are problems in your organization, your customers will let you know that as well.)
If someone does business with you, can they brag about you to their friends online?
Can they mention @YourBusiness on Twitter and tell their network what a great experience they’ve had? If not, you might be missing out on some serious word of mouth marketing and customer feedback.
Do work you enjoy (and hire employees who enjoy working for you), have personality in your brand, and actively participate in social media. Who knows, you may be on your way to creating a killer successful brand like Southwest Airlines.
Question: What’s one thing you see Southwest Airlines (or another company) doing well that’s contributing to their business success? Let us know in the comments below!