Opportunities to earn word of mouth exist everywhere. You don’t need your customers to fill out a form or comment on your Facebook page to tell you how to make their day. You just have to pay attention to them. How? By empowering your employees to be decision-makers, to treat your customers like humans, and to occasionally make them a birthday crowns out of peanuts.

That’s how Southwest Airlines earns loyal fans and word of mouth according to their Project Lead of Social Business and Listening, Christi McNeill. In her presentation at SocialMedia.org’s BlogWell conference, Christi explains that surprise and delight doesn’t have to be complicated. She says it’s more about a culture of genuine love for their customers and a willingness to make their day — even if it’s just making a peanut crown for a passenger’s birthday.

In her presentation, she also explains:

  • How Southwest Airlines recruits the right people to earn word of mouth
  • How they plan ahead to quickly act on surprise and delight
  • How they turn employees and customers into “field reporters”

Watch Christi’s full presentation in the video below or read a transcript from our live blog of the conference.

Download Christi’s slide presentation here.


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  1. Allison DeFord

    Marketing candy! Thank you for sharing. LUV Southwest already and now even more.

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