By Terry L. Brock
“Make your customers say “WOW!” – Legendary Australian Marketing Guru,
Acquisition and retention of customers is paramount for your business success. You need to make it your job to have customers regularly and frequently saying “WOW!” for what you do for them. Once they are saying “WOW!” you have the opportunity to build Relationship Marketing in a way that goes beyond what your competition will do.
In the past I’ve talked about a company that had consistently provided a “WOW!” level of service. They kept things simple and they did it right.
Unfortunately, it looks like that “WOW!” has changed into an “UGH!”
The company I’m talking about is my beloved Southwest Airlines. At the outset you have to know that I have been a die-hard, loyal Southwest Airlines customer. I prefer them and fly them often---even when their price is a little above the competition.
However, that could change as a result of their new policy.
Keeping the “WOW!” in your business requires diligence and it is never-ending. As the old football coach said, “It ain’t what you done, it’s what you done lately.” And lately, Southwest Airlines has changed their policies regarding boarding and some other details that make the flying experience less than what it could be.
I used to be able to call 24 hours in advance of my flight and check in online. That usually insured me to get on with the coveted A boarding group. However, that has now changed and Southwest has a new category they call “Business Select.” They are trying to offer a service much like we see from their competitors who are more “legendary” airlines.
This new policy makes it much tougher for the small business person who needs to fly regularly. If you don’t hit 32 segments in a year, your chances of getting the preferred seating are now out of your control. Getting to the airport early doesn’t give you an advantage.
Yes, you could elect to fly in their “Business Select” category but that could set you back $100-$200 extra just to have the privilege of getting on the plane earlier and getting an extra drink. I checked several sample fares from my home base of
The point is that no business can afford to alienate their loyal customers and stop the Relationship Marketing that makes customers say “WOW!” We all have to strive diligently on a regular basis to meet the needs of those who are loyal to us.
We also have to avoid “We Think” marketing. This is the kind of marketing that is done in a vacuum. I don’t know what kind of market research that the good people at Southwest Airlines did to come up with their new strategy. I’ll bet it was calculated due to rising fuel costs and other challenges in the marketplace. However, after talking with a few others (yes, a non-scientific random sampling on my part) I see concerns about staying with Southwest Airlines as our main provider of air travel.
Time will tell. As the word gets out that Southwest Airlines is not like it was, the marketplace will decide. I could be dead wrong in my guess that this strategy won’t work. The marketplace rules. Many times in the past I’ve thought something would turn out a particular way and it did not. However, my batting average is pretty good and I think Southwest is not going to do well on this. Hopefully, Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO, and his team of really good people will correct this error.
However, it serves as a strong reminder for us to constantly assess how we’re putting the “WOW!” in our businesses and making it special for those wonderful people who pay us. Whether we call them customers, clients, passengers, members, guests or some other title, they are the reason to be in business. Only by making them say “WOW!” with great service and value do we retain their loyalty and stay in business.
Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.
Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission..