Flying with Heart: How Southwest Airlines’ Mobile Strategy Focuses On Customer Care

Meredith Whisenhunt Business Value Services Airship

Aviation Festival Americas is where the top minds in commercial aviation from North America come together under one roof.  Covering everything from retailing to sustainability and beyond, it’s the go-to event where airline and airport leaders discuss cutting-edge strategies, share ideas, explore new technologies and build lasting relationships. 

Kicking off the Retail & Payments track on Wednesday, Airship’s North American Lead Business Value Advisor Meredith Whisenhunt held a Fireside chat with Southwest Airlines Digital Experience Enablement Manager Briana Strother and Southwest Airlines Senior Email Digital Developer Caity O’Connor. 

According to Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines CEO, “The biggest thing that makes us “us” is our people and the unique and unrivaled hospitality they deliver. No one has a heart for service like the people of Southwest Airlines. No one.” Southwest is dedicated to creating a digital customer experience that reflects the “heart” and hospitality in all aspects of a traveler’s journey. 

Southwest Airlines’ “Heart” mobile strategy focuses on improving the customer experience during and after the day of travel. As more bookings occur through the Southwest mobile app than on other platforms combined, it is important that app marketing communications not interrupt the booking flow. 

Southwest wants day-of-travel notifications to be complementary, not interruptive, and, most importantly, helpful to the customer. One example of helpfulness is notifying the customer when an airport may be busy because of peak travel time, allowing the customer to plan for their trip and mitigate any difficulties.  

Mobile wallet passes are an essential component of Southwest’s day-of-travel experience. Southwest Airlines utilizes Airship Mobile Wallet for all mobile boarding passes. Because of their flexibility, Southwest is able to issue boarding passes for children traveling on laps rather than seats and even provide drink coupons to store in mobile wallets! Brianna and Caity mentioned that a benefit of these passes is that they can be updated with advertisements after the day of travel.  

Lastly, Brianna and Caity discussed how activity, engagement and customer feedback drive their mobile strategy. Southwest utilizes Airship to improve customers’ mobile app, mobile wallet and SMS experiences.  Southwest’s “Heart” will continue to drive strategy, with customers’ needs at the forefront. Outside of the day of travel, the team is getting creative in keeping their customers engaged. Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines launched promotional SMS to drive the value customers seek from the brand.  Cross-channel communication is key to keeping customers engaged. 

A key initiative for the Southwest Airlines team is driving personalization throughout their messaging. Briana and Caity mentioned that they send personalized messages about travel experiences they think customers might be curious about. For example, they might send messages about other beach destinations to a customer who has just returned from a similar destination. The hope is to drive curiosity and eventually an additional booking. 

The entire Airship crew is eager to see how Southwest Airlines continues strengthening bonds with customers and growing value with mobile-first experiences and convenience. Please reach out if you need help defining your mobile app strategy or optimizing cross-channel messages. Airship is ready, able and excited to help!