8/16/2010

A three-person team at Southwest Airlines is tasked with explaining -- and apologizing for -- situations that might have made for an uncomfortable flight. From mechanical breakdowns to emotional ones, Fred Taylor Jr. and his team try to reach passengers within 24 hours to assure them that their next flight will go more smoothly. "Our objective is to get out in front of the situation before the inquiry occurs," Taylor says. Some might argue that customers should not be reminded of a bad experience, but surveys at American Airlines suggest otherwise. Mark Mitchell, American's managing director of customer experience, says customer satisfaction with a delayed flight can be 14 to 16 points higher than an on-time flight -- if the delay is handled well.

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