How Southwest’s Luv Pays Business Dividends

There’s no doubt that Southwest Airlines has a heart.

Visually, it’s attached to its logo as a reminder of its caring, personalized attention, and socially, they truly take off in capitalizing on positive experiences. Marketers like to categorize themselves as B2B and/or B2C, but, true to our predictions for an increase in more human marketing interactions, Southwest is a perfect example of H2H, Human to Human.

One area where Southwest really thrives is on their social channels. They use a combination of timely, positive and respectful responses signed by the first name of someone on their team. Facebook, in particular, with close to 4 million fans, has the tone of a caring friend vs. a cold corporation (again, human with a pulse). One recent post which illustrates this H2H concept beautifully is Amanda Beaver’s recount of traveling alone, struggling with her two young kids and being brought to tears by the kindness of 2 gate agents who not only assisted her on the plane, but had her stroller assembled and waiting for her after landing.

The post has increased to 23,288 likes, 501 comments and, in essence, created a Southwest Luv-fest for its ability to connect one-on-one with customers and specifically to take the stress and headache out of traveling for single parents. This “Luv” went viral, with other parents chiming in about not only their positive experiences, but also how it led to brand loyalty. Southwest essentially gave their fans a platform to become Brand Ambassadors in the most authentic, natural way.

Even the negative comments were quickly and respectfully responded to with some good old fashioned Southwest Luv and assurance that the company cares, and that even when they falter, they’re committed to doing better next time.

Who doesn’t fall in love with that attitude?

Some tips on how to be more human in your communications include:

  • Don’t be afraid. Many marketers are afraid to show their human side and consider it risky. We’d argue that being an automaton is even more risky.
  • Evaluate H2H success stories to see how other companies in your industry are using human interactions to bring best practices to your own outreach.
  • Engage. It’s so much more powerful than “pitch” or “sell” or “promote.” Find ways to connect in meaningful ways with your customers.
  • Make it authentic and two-way. Consumers are smart. Give them respect, a platform to communicate, and make it a two-way conversation to amplify the “Luv.”

The H2H concept is far from new. Two years ago, Tom Lowery reported in the Huffington Post, how Human-to-Human (H2H) is promising and leading to more collaboration. He states, “The emergence and rapid growth of individuals and organizations who understand the benefits of collaboration over competition (and the results of a collective impact) are building a new business and societal infrastructure.”

And Jessica Stillman published in Inc. magazine, “Being a Human on Social Media Pays Off,” detailing research that shows how “no one likes a robot,” and showing personality online pays. Ironically, the research quoted in this article dives into the social media profiles of the Dutch airline KLM.

If H2H is striking a chord with you, check out a leader in the field, Brian Kramer, an internationally renowned H2H expert and author of several books on the topic including Shareology: How Sharing Powers the Human Economy; and Human to Human: #H2H. Kramer’s TED talk, “Why Sharing is Reimagining Our Future,” included a live Twitter experiment to demonstrate the power of sharing.

A 2014 Kramer tweet still getting traction today further endorses Kramer’s belief in the power of sharing:

Our look inside some of the H2H tactics that Southwest employs, along with some of the thought leaders and research on H2H, is a timely example of putting the human element into marketing campaigns across multiple channels, and we look forward to seeing how other companies use H2H to increase authenticity and compassion and make stronger consumer connections.