Southwest Airlines Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing takes Southwest Airlines to new heights

One selling point of SMS is its adaptability and versatility across industries. One example of a successful SMS campaign implementation and execution is Southwest Airlines.

Improving Customer Service

In May 2010, the carrier launched a campaign in hopes of cutting airport wait time and inbound passenger calls. The airline uses SMS to alert passengers of flight delays, cancellations and gate changes.

The Old Way Wasn’t Working

But why SMS? The simple answer is the old way wasn’t working. Contacting passengers in the event of a delay or cancellation is critical for an airline. When the Southwest team looked into communication trends, they found a few patterns. First, more voice messages were being left, which created the potential to miss critical flight information. Also, many passengers provided mobile phone numbers and email addresses as their primary mode of communication, when purchasing tickets.

These findings presented a challenge: Find an effective way to reach these customers over their preferred channel, while using their existing infrastructure. Southwest was able to succeed by adopting a pre-recorded automated outbound messaging service to communicate with passengers. Outcomes included increased proactive passenger outreach, reduced inbound calls and improved contact center management.

Reducing Customer Stress

This is a prime example of the power of adapting to customers’ lifestyle. “Our goal is to reduce passengers’ stress when travel schedules change unexpectedly,” senior manager of Proactive Customer Service Communications for Southwest Airlines, said in a statement.

Their mobile marketing program has also gained attention from third parties. “Southwest is clearly ahead of the rest,” said Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile, media and entertainment at ForeSee, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company that measures customer satisfaction. “Consumers love the simplicity of their whole experience.”

In short, companies who want to succeed in the mobile marketing realm should follow Southwest’s lead: Know your customer and develop a strategy to reach them better.