Sorry Can Go a Long Way

You be the judge.

Here’s the deal:

In April, 2011:

Airline A loses 3.5 bags per 1,000 passengers.

Airline B loses 3.2 bags.

Airline A departs on-time 76% of the time

Airline B departs on-time 80% of the time.

Which airline gets more complaints to the Department of Transportation?

Airline A, right?


Airline B gets 4 times the complaints of Airline A.

How can this be?

The data says that Airline A performs worse.  Shouldn’t it get more complaints?


Not when Airline A happens to be Southwest.

(Airline B is one of the other major carriers.)

What Southwest lacks in airplane performance, it makes up for in people performance:

  • Empathy.
  • Genuine connection.
  • Friendliness.
  • Honest and direct communication when there’s an issue.

Southwest’s reputation for friendly customer service creates a “halo effect” making them seem better than they actually are.

Exceptional customer service isn’t about always being right.

It’s the willingness to admit when things are wrong, and make every attempt to repair the relationship.

Which doctors have the lowest rates of malpractice suits filed against them?

You might think it’s the ones who stay tight lipped and avoid ‘fessing up to doing anything wrong.


According to research, it’s the ones who admit their errors and apologize, and offer to make things right.

Where can you be more transparent with your customers?

Who do you need to apologize to?


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