I must admit that as a reader, I’m not a fan of corporate blogs. Any time a company is in charge, it inevitably restricts what bloggers can say. (As you can tell, I’m clearly not sponsored by anyone.) There are plenty of companies who just put corporate blogs out there, because they don’t know anything about the web except that they need to have a presence. So, you see these crappy corporate blogs put up that tell you very little and are nothing but a marketing tactic.
Sometimes, however, you get a company that sees the value of the blog. Southwest is one of those companies. They’ve learned that a blog can be a very valuable customer feedback tool. Sure the blog is sanitized and you’ll never see a bad word printed about the airline, but there is some good to come out of it that makes it worth reading if you fly the airline.
When they started testing assigned seating last summer, the CEO posted about it and asked for comments. Sure enough, more than 600 comments were posted and I have no doubt that they read each one. They say those comments directly impact decision-making.
Today, another change was made supposedly due to feedback on a previous post. As many of you know, Southwest only keeps their schedule open for a certain period of time in advance of travel. They don’t tell anyone when the next part of the schedule will open, so it becomes a guessing game. You can guess from past experience about when it will happen. Then you either have to keep checking online, keep calling reservations, or wait for the message to show up on Ding! before you can make the booking.
Well now they’ve decided to change the policy due to, at least in part, the nearly 300 replies to that post explaining how they do what they do. Now, according to the post, they will inform their reservations agents and post on their website the dates when they will start selling tickets for future travel.
Is it true that the blog comments directly impact the decision-making process?Â I have no idea, but I would bet that it does.Â It’s just another form of customer communication but it is from a different target market.Â Southwest still doesn’t accept email comments from their website (boooooo), so people writing comments on blogs are probably a lot different than those taking out a piece of paper and writing down their thoughts.Â I would think they take the comments just as seriously as they take hand-written letters.
It’s that open pipe of communication that makes a corporate blog so valuable. And even if I don’t enjoy reading the completely sanitized content, I’ll continue to read because I know that I can have an impact on future decisions the airline makes.
Thanks for the link to Bill Owen’s post about how we do our schedulues at Southwest. I can assure you that our top Leaders take the contents on the blog very seriously, and while we have a ton of fun with the blog, Colleen Barrett, our President, looks upon it as a fantastic Customer Service resource. It is true that Bill’s post and our change in policy with regard to the way we open our schedules is a result of blog comments and written comments. However, the blog had the ability to focus the issue into one place, and it made an impact.