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Brand trust comes from proving yourself to consumers: Southwest Airlines

NEW YORK – A Southwest Airlines executive at Forrester’s Marketing 2016 Forum explained that in a time of social media and ad blocking, it is imperative that retailers show consumers they can be trusted through their customer service and business practices.

During the session “The Power of Trust,” the executive detailed that when it comes to consumers’ conversations and social media discussion about airlines, the subject matter is usually negative. Southwest Airlines makes sure to fulfill its promise as a low-fare airline by avoiding extra fees, creating a strong trust with consumers and helping to combat negative reviews.

“No one likes to spend extra fees, so we focus on low fares, particularly extra fees,” said Anne Murray, senior director of marketing communications at Southwest Airlines. “So today it is not just about the low fares when you purchase your ticket, but about all those unfortunate moments of what gets added.”

Flying away from negativity
When consumers bring up the subject of airlines, it is usually to share their negative experiences. Southwest Airlines aims to be more a trusted brand and friend to consumers by its good business practices and positive customer experiences during booking and flying.

When it comes to brand trust, actions speak louder than words. Retailers have to prove they are trustworthy or risk missing out and seeing repercussions on social media.

It takes a long period of time for a consumer to become a loyal customer and fully trust a brand or retailer. But in an instance it can all be dropped, and now everyone has a voice thanks to social media.

Listening to customers
This storm of social and mobile means that good business practices are more important than ever, especially with so much content overload.

Southwest Airlines look at a wide range of research and listening to customers to determine how to move forward in what would be best to serve its fliers. Through data acquisition, retailers can determine what to focus on and how customers like to interact with their business.

For instance, Southwest Airlines recently rewarded members of its frequent flyers program with an easier way to book a flight on mobile, showcasing how integrating loyalty with mobile convenience is an increasingly important strategy for brands (see more).

“All great communication plans come out of lots of research and listening to your customers and then sort of formulating the magic of how to bring that to the marketplace,” Ms. Murray said.