Lithys 2017: Southwest Airlines - Topline Titan

Lithys 2017: Southwest Airlines - Topline Titan

Since our Community launched, we’ve tracked more than $4.3 Million in retained revenue.



Company: Southwest Airlines

southwest_logo1.pngEntry submitted by: Ashley Mainz, Social Business Manager 

Community and Social Channels: Southwest Airlines Community, Facebook page and Twitter channel.

Lithy category:  Topline Titan  


In its 46th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 53,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest proudly operates a network of 101 destinations in the United States and eight additional countries with more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season. Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded.


Our 2016-2017 goals 


Southwest Airlines had an exceptional year in 2016. We carried a record number of Customers while improving on-time performance, baggage delivery rates, and Customer Satisfaction scores. We saw record profits delivered at strong margins. We grew our route network, preserved our strong financial position, and returned significant value to our Shareholders.


In order to keep up with the demands of a growing business, we launched the Southwest Airlines Community on Lithium’s Community platform as a place for Customers to share stories, exchange knowledge, and find inspiration from our members.



Lithium’s Community platform enabled our team to achieve these four objectives:

  1. Shift common support inquiries and how-to questions to the Community.
  2. Engage key groups of expert travelers to answer questions, educate new Customers, and share their stories.
  3. Enlist our best Customers to participate in new ways with the brand, inspiring others with their experiences and enthusiasm.
  4. Protect and grow revenue through SEO on an owned community.


Our focus areas and tactics to meet those goals 


One of the most appealing aspects of the Lithium Community platform was the ability to host multiple content types on one single platform. For Southwest Airlines, that initially included our corporate blog as well as new discussion boards.  As we built the Southwest Airlines Community, the first area of focus was migration of our corporate blog, formerly known as “Nuts About Southwest,” to Lithium’s Community platform. The new platform provided a stable infrastructure for the award-winning blog and added new features and functionality that allowed our Customers to share their own Southwest stories and engage with other Community members.





Working with Lithium, we constructed the discussion forum area of the Community from the ground up to support the primary business objective of shifting common support inquiries from costly contact channels.



We structured discussion boards around our call centers’ most frequently asked questions. Those discussion board topics include:

  • Boarding
  • Check-in
  • General Travel Policies
  • International Travel
  • Rapid Rewards Program
  • Travel Assistance for Customers with Disabilities


Since the initial launch of these discussion boards, we have added several new boards based on discussion trends and business needs. The new discussion boards include:

  • Family Travel
  • Travel to Cuba
  • Travel Inspiration
  • In the Air
  • Southwest Careers

As we looked for our opportunities to promote the Southwest Airlines Community, we integrated links to the Community on several high traffic pages of

  • Homepage
  • Global footer
  • Contact Us
  • Customer Service
  • FAQs
  • Rapid Rewards Account Summary

We also launched a membership drive that targeted different types of Customers through a direct email campaign. The email campaign contained a clear call to action to join the Southwest Airlines Community and resulted in more than 15,000 new members within five days.


Gamification was another key focus area as we looked to activate Community members and keep them engaged. We implemented a robust ranking structure and library of badges to recognize and reward our most active members. Our Community Moderator has also surprised several of our frequent contributors with Southwest swag as a thank you for their participation.


Our results 


Using Lithium’s Community Experience Survey, also known as Lithium Value Analytics, we’ve been able to show an early indication that we are on our way to achieving our goal of contact avoidance:

  • 39% of survey respondents said they came to the Community to find information to help them use a product or service; 40% were looking for support or help; 11% were looking for information to help them make a purchase decision; 6% were looking for a question to answer or discussion to participate in; only 4% came to the Community for some other reason.
  • 56% of survey respondents said they found what they were looking for on the Community and 67% of those individuals said they would have contacted Customer Service if they had not found what they were looking for.
  • Since the Community launched, we’ve tracked more than $4.3 Million in retained revenue (Note: Retained revenue is measured by the number of visitors who come to the Community from and return to to complete a purchase).
  • The Community has more than 96,000 Community Members.
  • More than 900 Customers stories have been submitted to the corporate blog.
  • A group of super users has emerged within the discussion forum, consistently sharing their knowledge and expertise with others.


In less than one year since the launch of the Southwest Airlines Community, we have already seen a significant return on the investment we made in the Lithium Community platform. The Community has quickly become a natural extension of the Customer Experience and a welcoming place for members to share knowledge and learn from others.


As the Community continues to grow, we will continue adding new features and looking for opportunities to provide a more personalized experience for members.



Ever since I read "NUTs" I've loved southwest, well done on the 4.3 mill revenue, you got my vote 🙂