Sunday, March 25, 2007

...More About Southwest's Involvement Within The Community!!!

"Citizen service is the very American idea that we meet our challenges not as isolated individuals but as members of a true community, with all of us working together…"— former President Bill Clinton

Southwest Airlines loves to spread their company spirit. Southwest's "Share the Spirit" is spread throughout all the communities they serve. Southwest does not have a foundation, they work on several community enhancing projects. The company works together to help those in need within the community, they strive to become part of the community.

A quote from Southwest's community service page states, "Southwest Airlines has always been devoted to each and every community that we serve. Our Employees, Customers, and neighbors make the Southwest Family the LUVing place that it is and we are proud to offer our cities more than just friendly and affordable air service. We offer our hearts!"

Southwest's community service programs would not be made possible without their employees. The employees are heavily involved in helping the communities Southwest serves. The community service programs that the company takes part in reflects highly on their reputation. By helping the communities they serve, Southwest proves that they care about their customers and would go out on a limb for them if they were ever in need. They want to give back to their customers. The company has many programs that are all unique in their own way, the programs are all different in order to help a variety of people in need. The public can become aware of the company's efforts through their website and the news. Southwest has a Community Service section on their website that explains all their programs in detail.

Southwest teams up with many organizations to help make community events possible. Some of the organizations Southwest has lent a helping hand to are...

  • The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) - Southwest teams up with HACU to provide round trip airline tickets to Hispanic students with socio-economic needs. The airline tickets that Southwest provides enables students to leave home to travel and get a higher education.
  • Long Island 2-Day - Southwest joins the LI2Day 35 mile walk to help support the fight against breast cancer.
  • Operation Healthy Heart (OHH) - Southwest helps OHH campaign to help save the lives of Vietnamese children who are in need of heart surgery. Together, Southwest and OHH help to financially assist the children in need. The program has currently assisted over 1,200 children in Vietnam.
  • Habitat for Humanity - Southwest employees team up with Habitat for Humanity in Dallas to help with the landscaping of newly renovated homes to give back to the community.

Southwest offers many community service programs and they have been recognized for their contributions within the company. Here are some of their Corporate Citizenship Awards listed on their website....

  • 100 Best Corporate Citizens, 2000 to 2005, awarded by Business Ethics for service to seven stakeholder groups.
  • Eddie Garcia Partnership Award for "Flight to Fight Hunger," 2005, by Texas Association of Second Harvest Food Banks.
  • Performance Through People Award, 2004, from The Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, Northwestern University. The award honors companies that successfully capitalize on the human interactions that impact a company's long-term growth.
  • Camaraderie, 2003, The Great Place to Work Institute honored Southwest for our exemplary display of camaraderie.
  • Salvation Army Volunteer Partner of the Year, 2002, in appreciation to Southwest Airlines for helping to build the caring community in partnership with The Salvation Army.
  • Civic Award of Excellence, 2002, given "for establishing a philosophy and setting the industry standard in your commitment toward your Employees…"
  • Employer Support Freedom Award, 2001, in recognition of employers for employment policies and practices that are supportive of their Employee's participation in the National Guard and Reserve.
  • Corporate Citizenship Award, 2000, awarded for Southwest’s dedication, commitment and leadership in promoting Employee Relations.

One of Southwest's programs is called "Adopt-A-Pilot." The four week program is designed to help fifth grade classrooms around the country gain a "sky high" education. Through the program, students are united with Southwest Pilots who help them to better understand math, science, geography, history and creative writing. The students are given situational problems which they apply to aviation. Students at this age are often intrigued by aviation and applying it to their subjects helps them to become more eager to learn.

Southwest also helps people who are less fortunate. Every year Southwest employees support National Hunger Awareness Day in Texas. The employees get together and help feed 80,000 hungry families. They put a lot of time into packing food boxes, this really helps to make a difference in the community.

Southwest also helps out burn victims through the Parkland Burn Camp. Throughout the past 12 years they have raised over $100,000 for the camp. The camp enables children to be surrounded by other children who are burn victims, this helps the children interact with others and not feel self conscious. This camp helps the children to build self esteem and heal both mentally and physically. Southwest employees lend a helping hand each year to make this annual event a success.

...Back From Spring Break!

... I have good news and bad news. The bad news is my spring break is over, but the good news is that Southwest got me home safe in the midst of a terrible northeastern snow storm. The service was great and on time. I was very satisfied. Below are a couple pictures I took from the plane, enjoy :)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Giving To The Community Through Ronald McDonald...

The president of Southwest Airlines, Colleen Barrett, said directly on the Southwest website, “You give life, personality, spirit, and LUV to our Company, and these are qualities of which few companies can boast. It is quite a privilege to have you share with us your individual and collective achievements.”

Southwest believes in giving charity and the company has effected the lives of many people. Over the past twenty years Southwest has been apart of the Ronald McDonald House Program, it is the company's primary corporate charity. The Ronald McDonald House Program helps to improve the well-being of children and their families who are in need.

Southwest sponsors an annual "LUV Classic Golf Tournament" and all the proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House Program. Southwest has helped raise over nine million dollars in the past twenty years!!

I Interrupt This Intense Blogging Session To Tell You...

.....I coincidentally just got off the phone with a Southwest employee who was very helpful to me. I am flying to Orlando for spring break this weekend and needed to change my return flight home. I booked the flight through my credit card company, they said the itinerary could not be changed and was non-refundable. However, when I called Southwest they told me different. The company allowed me to change my flight for no penalty fee, I actually saved $70, wow! I am also a fan of Spirit Airlines, but last time I changed my flight plans through their company I was charged $50, not cool. Anyways, I know this post is totally random, but I just wanted explain how I just experienced Southwest's mission, I am a satisfied customer.

TODAY In The News...

I found an article from the Dallas Morning News tittled, "Southwest plumps its image as other airlines cut amenities." The article explains how many airlines are starting to charge passengers for snacks and even contemplating the idea of charging for soft drinks, but Southwest is not traveling down that path. The article goes on to mention how Southwest finds it humorous that other companies are charging their passengers for things that should be included in the airfare, one Southwest commercial shows someone having to insert a coin in order to use the overhead luggage compartment.

Southwest wants their customers to know that they are not like other airlines and will not change to be like them. Today, airlines are experiencing heavy competition and many have filed bankruptcy, but not Southwest.

Southwest has never been known as an airline that offers satellite television or full meals. Southwest has always wanted to be known as the airline that gets their customers to their destination for a low cost, not known as an airline with several amenities. As this article explains, some people criticize Southwest for not having assigned seating. Southwest will continue to defend their seating policy because the company is not losing customers. Southwest will never try to squeeze all the pennies out of their customers, always remember Southwest puts customers before profit.

...Humor Above The Clouds...

Southwest is known for having funny flight attendants. I found this video on YouTube, it is a clip of a flight attendant singing to the passengers on Christmas Day, everyone was clapping and seemed to have loved the entertainment.

In an interview with CEO Herb Kelleher, done by Strategy & Business Magazine, the interviewer asked him why the Southwest flight attendants sing and he answered with, "Southwest flight attendants sing because they want to. We don’t program our flight attendant training to teach people to sing or tell jokes. What we say is, “If that is your basic personality, feel free to go ahead and do it.” We’re not trying to train you to be anything different from what you really are. If singing buoys up your heart, makes you feel good, go ahead and do it. We have tried to say to our people, “You don’t have to put on a mask, you don’t have to be an automaton when you come to work. You can just be yourself.” Wasn’t it Robert Frost who said, “Isn’t it a shame that people’s minds work furiously until they get to work?” Well, that’s because they feel that they become artificial and constrained by the workplace."

Well, while I have you in the humorous mood, take a look at this clip. The clip is about a funny Southwest flight attendant named Matt, he explains why he likes to tell jokes on the aircraft and you can watch some of the funny things he does to enlighten the passengers.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Enough With The Seriousness And Onto Some Fun Facts...

While surfing Southwest's website I found some fun facts directly from their Southwest Airlines Fact Sheet. These facts are very interesting...

  • Southwest received 284,827 resumes and hired 3,363 new Employees in 2006.
  • In 2006 Southwest served 61.5 million cans of soda, juices, and water; 10.9 million alcoholic beverages; 5 million bags of pretzels; 93.8 million bags of peanuts; 16 million snackpacks; and 35.4 million other snacks.
  • Southwest consumed 1.6 billion gallons of jet fuel in 2006.
  • In 2006 Southwest moved 265 million pounds of cargo and mail.
  • The shortest daily Southwest flight is between Ft. Myers (RSW) and Orlando (MCO) (133 miles). The longest daily Southwest flight is between Philadelphia (PHL) and Oakland (OAK) (2,510 miles).
  • Southwest has 1,133 married couples. In other words, 2,266 Southwest Employees have spouses who also work for the Company.

......WOW!! 284,827 resumes and Southwest only hired 3,363 new employees. Those numbers prove that Southwest is looking for employees who are really eager to help the company with customer satisfaction. When I read the fact that Southwest moved 265 million pounds of cargo and mail I was shocked, I had no idea the company dealt with cargo. I was astonished when I learned the number of married couples working for the company... how cute ;)

Take A Look Into The Blogosphere... I'm Not The Only Southwest Blog In Cyberspace!

Southwest has created their very own blog on their website titled, "Nuts About Southwest," I urge you to check it out! How ironic, the opening of their blog says, "FORTUNE'S MOST ADMIRED COMPANIES."

Anyone can leave a comment on their blog, it is very interesting to read other's comments about the airline. I think I'll comment on Southwest's blog, after all I do want to become part of their BLOGOSPHERE

In relation to Southwest being one of the TOP 10 companies on Fortune's 500 List, one person commented saying, "Southwest should be ranked #1. They are the GREATEST company in the world!!!!!" How's that for customer satisfaction??

I came across an article written in USA Today titled, "Southwest Airlines blog takes off." The article was written in April of 2006 and it explains how Southwest created the blog because they figured it would be a great way to connect with their customers. An interesting point was brought up in this article, what would Southwest do if a negative comment was posted on their blog? After posting my own comment on "Nuts About Southwest," the website told me that my comment would be viewed and approved before becoming public. This article states that Southwest will expect negative comments and the company plans on dealing with them from an airline carrier's point of view.

SIDENOTE: After the USA Today article explains how Southwest plans on dealing with negative comments on their blog, the article states, "Southwest took the same approach when it decided a couple years ago to participate in a cable television reality show that follows its employees as they deal with angry passengers and other problems." I have personally watched Southwest's television show on A&E and I believe it is a great way for the company to show their customers that their company isn't perfect but will do all they can in their power to help satisfy their customers, even their angry customers and show what it is they do to solve company problems.

On the top left of my blog I have included an RSS feed to Southwest's company blog, enjoy :)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

SKY High Reputation!

I came across this picture and found it funny when I read it, but in all seriousness it is very true. With a bad reputation, a company may be at risk of losing their customers. Once a reputation is lost, it is hard to re-build, or in some cases can it be rebuilt or in other words, dry-cleaned?

Southwest has worked very hard to keep their company's good reputation. They earned a good reputation and now the challenge is sustaining it. My public relations professor has taught us that good reputations result in many things such as better job candidates, positive press coverage, and customers coming back. Southwest works around the clock to make sure their reputation is not stained.

Southwest Airlines is one of the world's most profitable airlines and it all travels back to their well deserved reputation. Southwest has developed a reputation revolved around their company's identity and what they stand for, which is amazing customer service and cheap airfare. The laid back airline ensures that their customers will fly and have a good time, customers can always expect an atmosphere made up of high spirits and entertaining employees.

Customer service comes first, profit comes second. To communicate their reputation, Southwest has developed a Customer Service Commitment page on their website, which explains everything customers need to know about flying with Southwest and how the company operates. The airline has no hidden secrets, within the Customer Service Commitment the company shares everything for the convenience of the customer to maintain a good reputation.

May of 1988 was a very significant year for Southwest's reputation. During this time, they were the first airline to have ever won the Triple Crown. The were awarded this because the company had the best on-time record, the fewest customer complaints and they were the best baggage handlers. In the year 2007, 19 years later, Southwest has won the Triple Crown award thirty times, proving to keep a good and stable reputation.

I am sure many of you are aware of the 'Frequent Flyer Program,' but did you know Southwest Airlines was the first airline to give their passengers credit for the amount of trips taken as opposed to the amount of miles flown? This program enables customers to travel and get rewarded, the total trips traveled eventually adds up to a free ticket. The start up of this type of Frequent Flyer program was very reputable for Southwest. It was just brought to my attention that Southwest was NOT the first company to start the Frequent Flyer Program, it was started by Western Airlines in 1980.

What do other people say about Southwest's reputation? Well, one thing is for sure, there are not many people complaining about the company. Southwest's website states that, "Southwest Airlines has consistently received the lowest ratio of complaints per passengers boarded of all Major U.S. carriers that have been reporting statistics to the Department of Transportation (DOT) since September 1987, which is when the DOT began tracking Customer Satisfaction statistics and publishing its Air Travel Consumer Report." Southwest strives to keep their identity of satisfying consumers and by the looks of the Department of Transportation statistics, the airline is doing a great job.

There are challenges to keeping a great reputation in the airline business. It is an industry that could change for the better or worse at any given moment. Take for example JetBlue, one minute they had a great reputation and the next one of their jets was stunk on the runway for hours at a time and they experienced their first public relations nightmare. Their company went about handling it very professionally and developed a Passenger's Bill of Rights to ensure the incident will never happen again. Planes often experience technical difficulties resulting in delays, weather conditions also result in delays or cancellations, and the fact of the matter is anything could happen unexpectedly in the airline business. Southwest always needs to be prepared for the worst to make sure they can handle it the best possible way to help sustain their reputation.

Southwest Airlines works hard at keeping a good reputation. The company strives to get their customers to their destinations on-time for the lowest possible fares. They want to have a good time satisfying their customers, and this is why customers keep on coming back to fly.

Mr. CEO... You lead, we'll FLY behind you!

Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines since 1982, has been the backbone of Southwest. He believes that his good spirited personality is the most powerful thing to help the company. Kelleher said in an interview, "Spirit comes from the heart and not the head."

Kelleher was also the co-founder of Southwest Airlines with Rollin King in Texas. Ever since he co-founded Southwest he had the idea to be different. Back when Southwest was created, other competitive airlines were all they same, which is why Kelleher and Rollin drew up an idea on a napkin in hopes to create a more "fun" airline. The two originally created the service to operate between Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, but little did they know, the airline was going to skyrocket. Today Southwest operates between 62 cities, serving a whooping 80 million passengers yearly!

Would you like to know more about the leadership of Herb Kelleher? I found an interesting website called Leader to Leader Institute, the site includes an article written by the only and only, Herb Kelleher himself, titled, "A Culture of Commitment." In this article he spills his secrets of what it takes to build an organization like Southwest Airlines.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Mission Possible

Southwest Airlines has been in service since 1971 and now operates over 468 planes. The company strives to get their customers to their destination on time while having low fares. Southwest's Mission Statement is made up of two parts, one part directed towards their customers which states, "The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit," and one part dedicated to their employees which states, "We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer."

The well written Mission Statement of Southwest Airlines may be the reason why they are the least complained about airline. Customer service is crucial, the job of the employees is to satisfy the customers and Southwest treats their employees the same way they want their employees to treat their customers.

CEO Herb Kelleher said it perfectly, "When I started out, business school professors liked to pose a conundrum: Which do you put first, your employees, your customers, or your shareholders? As if that were an unanswerable question. My answer was very easy: You put your employees first. If you truly treat your employees that way, they will treat your customers well, your customers will come back, and that’s what makes your shareholders happy. So there is no constituency at war with any other constituency. Ultimately, it’s shareholder value that you’re producing."

Thursday, March 1, 2007

ATTENTION PASSENGERS, this is my first blog!

Due to expected turbulence, please fasten your seat belts by inserting the metal tab into the buckle and pull tight, this blog will be a wild ride.
The Fortune 500 company I have chosen to fly with is Southwest Airlines. Through this blog I want to take a look at the ins and outs of how the company runs. If I leave anything out please feel free to state your opinion, comments are greatly appreciated. Please enjoy the flight :)