In order to keep up with the demands of a growing business, Southwest Airlines has invested in an owned, online community as a place for Customers to share stories, exchange knowledge, and find inspiration from other members.
The Southwest Community was launched in 2016 and is home to a Customer Discussion Forum and Corporate Blog.
The corporate blog gives readers a behind the scenes look at Southwest's involvement in the communities we serve, information on products and services, and stories from the Heart.
The Discussion Forum's taxonomy is aligned to common support inquiries, which initially included:
Since the initial launch of these discussion boards, we have added several new boards based on discussion trends and business need, including:
The Community is integrated on several high traffic pages of Southwest.com, including:
Direct email marketing has been used to inform Customers about the Community. The most recent email campaign contained a clear call to action to join the Community and resulted in more than 15,000 new members within five days.
Gamification is a key area of focus, allowing members to level up through a ranking system and earn badges based on participation. Several times a year, Members have the ability to nominate themselves or others to become participants in the Community Champions Program, which formally recognizes the Community's top contributors.
Community Champions are recognized with a unique avatar, making it easy for others to identify them as a trusted voice within the Community. They receive a variety of perks throughout their time in the program, ranging from exclusive swag to in person events. They help set the tone and direction of the Discussion Forum and are frequent contributors to the Blog. They also have opportunities to connect regularly with The Southwest Community Team, making it easier to discuss questions, issues, and opportunities for the Community.
Using an on-platform customer experience survey, we've been able to show an early indication that we are on our way to achieving our goal of contact avoidance:
To date, the Community has amassed more than 100,000 Community Members and has quickly become a natural extension of Southwest's Customer experience.