Body Language and Southwest Airlines

Not long ago, I was on Southwest Airlines flight from LaGuardia to Chicago. Immediately after everyone boarded, the captain made an announcement to all of us that we would be delayed.  Nothing unusual for a flight out of LGA, but still… with a planeload of NYC passengers, you just don’t know who is going to be upset.  What made the announcement effective is the captain did not make it from the locked confines of the flight deck. He made while standing in the front of the airplane facing a plane full of passengers looking to get out of NYC on a Friday evening.

The fact he made the announcement face to face allowed us the passengers to see the empathy he had and it made the announcement far more personal for us.   The payout of him facing us while we were waiting is that we could sense that the captain was doing the best he could.   I would have to say it was the flight attendants who were the real benefactors of his personable style, because he used his body language to defuse potential customer complaints. The flight attendants did not have to encounter the assortment of complaints from passengers sitting in a long tube going nowhere.

I’m sharing this for two reasons. First, it is a great example of how face-to-face meetings can work to your advantage, even if such meetings involve difficult news. They can be a prime way to develop the type of relationships you need with your customers.   Whatever your sales strategies are and whatever is a boost to your sales motivation, I am fairly certain that the way you personally interact with your customers is a key factor in how successful you are. Second, I admit that I am a raving fan of Southwest Airlines and in particular of their employees.  Thank you Southwest Airlines for treating your passengers so well by allowing your personalities to come through on each and every flight.

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