Southwest stood out to us as a company with "positive deviance." It has a reputation for providing a better flying experience at a lower cost, and its been profitable every year since 1973. (Something no other airline can say.) Over the past several weeks, we have analyzed several aspects of Southwest as a company. Our initial research allowed us to develop the hypothesis restated below:
Southwest is a fun place to work that provides a great service at a lower cost because of the branding, internal culture, innovative ideas, and their competitive advantages. These things stem off the internal culture of the company. We propose that Southwest Airlines has a strong focus on internal culture and a want for customers to experience the same positive culture that their employees get to experience. We believe that this focus on internal cultural helps the employees offer great customer service.
Further research has allowed us to validate the hypothesis.
There are several takeaways from our findings. First, we recognize the company started out as a solution to a problem of flights being too expensive. From the beginning, they protected their employees and gave them a voice in company operations. This is a practice that still stands today.
The leader of the company has developed such a strong culture that emphasizes that the employees come first. Having happy employees, makes them work harder, and in the end, makes Southwest successful. Southwest has a mixture of external strategies through employees and internal strategies focusing on the future of the company and service differentiation.
Southwest brands itself to employees, customers, and investors. They all play off of each other with the fundamental philosophy that employees come first and customers come respectfully second.
In conclusion, our hypothesis proves to be correct. However, we have thought of some ways that Southwest can continue to improve itself. We ran a survey of college students, and from it found some interesting recommendations. People want more locations and destinations, assigned seats, a stronger focus on efficiency, and updated planes. Also, we think it could be beneficial to link up with third-party vendors such as Kayak, Travelocity, etc. However, they would need to run a cost-benefit analysis.
We aren't the only people who were curious what makes Southwest such a successful company. Here's a CBS broadcast that sums up our hypothesis, research, and conclusions.
Student Survey Results
Link to Survey
It is important to note that students surveyed likely approached the questions solely from the attitude of a customer, not a potential employee.
Sources Used throughout the Entire Blog: