Customer Service Goes a Long Way to Building Loyalty

Living in an area that’s such a distance from the Lower 48/rest of the United States (AKA Outside) has many challenges, and even more benefits. Our cold and snowy winters are just one of the challenges we embrace living in Alaska. This year has been no exception…in fact the snowfall has been exceptional.

Many of us “make it through” winter with the promise of trips Outside to warmer places. Since it’s very difficult and time consuming to drive, we rely on air travel. That’s why when there’s a storm Outside that affects air travel we all take notice. We probably know someone affected.

This week’s snow and ice storm in the Pacific Northwest dramatically affects Alaskans because our hub, Seattle, is essentially shutdown. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of folks stuck in Seattle, Houston, Portland, etc., all trying to get home. The news covers stories from passengers trying to get out.

What’s amazing is how folks are just riding the wave and adjusting, even while frustrated. The common theme is Alaska Airlines and how well they are communicating with customers via social media tools. Using Facebook and Twitter especially, the airline regularly updates its followers with travel schedules. Reading the comments and following along they are engaging stranded customers one-on-one and offering suggestions, sympathy and even injecting humor. As a result their customers are, for the most part, relatively content to ride this out.

Does this take an investment on the part of Alaska Airlines? Definitely it does, but it also appears to be paying dividends for customers who appreciate the follow-up and the treatment. Is everyone happy? Goodness no, but the “thank yous” are far outweighing the #fails.

Because many people are likely beginning their trips in areas not affected by the storm and therefore might not understand what’s really happening in Seattle, Alaska Airlines posted pictures of its icy planes on Facebook. They tweeted them as well, helping people understand the situation. I mean…who would question why a flight is delayed or cancelled after seeing a plane that looks like that!

In this age where we always focus on the bad customer service and the poor use of social media, it’s important to also talk about the organizations that are doing it correctly. And, it’s also important for us, as customers, to say thanks. I did that yesterday…did you? And then there’s their mileage program…but that’s another post!

Do you have examples of good customer service that makes you more loyal? What company and why?

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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