How Southwest apologise

Nice article from the NY Times: Airlines Learn to Fly on a Wing and an Apology

No airline accepts blame quite like Southwest Airlines, which employs Fred Taylor Jr. in a job that could be called chief apology officer.

His formal title is senior manager of proactive customer communications. But Mr. Taylor — 37 rail thin and mildly compulsive, by his own admission — spends his 12-hour work days finding out how Southwest disappointed its customers and then firing off homespun letters of apology.

Southwest seems to get the value of using a recognisable human voice for what might otherwise be rote apology letters.

Thanks to Stanley Moss for emailing me this.

2 thoughts on “How Southwest apologise

  1. Graham Hill


    Shouldn’t he be fixing the problem as well?

    Not only is a complaint the time to say sorry and to recover the customer, but it is also a perfect opportunity to fix the problem so that it doesn’t happen again.

    Fred Taylor should be saying sorry, talking with customers to see what the problem is, going to observe the problem in action and then to fixing it at its source.

    Graham Hill

    Independent CRM Consultant

    Interim CRM Manager

  2. Johnnie Moore

    As I understand it, his role is to handle apologies after the event. He’s not there at the time of the problem. It sounds like he makes it easy for customers to continue the conversation if they want more.

    I suppose I’m focussing on this as a small example of a detail being done that little better than the average. And I bet the recipients feel more willing to continue the conversation than if they get a boilerplate letter.

    There may be more to be done in the wider context of course.


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