Southwest Airlines Goes Live With Varolii SMS and Email For Real-Time Communications

Airline Cuts Airport Counter Wait Times and Inbound Passenger Calls with Proactive Flight Change Notifications

SEATTLE—May 4, 2010—The pervasiveness of mobile devices combined with more travelers leaving earlier for the airport has prompted Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), the nation's leading low-fare carrier, to add text messaging and email communications over smart phones to its automated flight change notification service. A Varolii client since late 2007, Southwest has dramatically increased the number of customers served via its proactive outreach—sending more than 5.5 million messages to passengers in the last 18 months to notify them of flight delays, cancellations and gate changes. By reaching more passengers with personalized notifications and enabling them to self-select new flight options or transfer to an agent if necessary, the airline has decreased the amount of time passengers spend on the phone with an agent or standing in line at airport service counters.

Varolii Upholds Southwest's World-Class Customer Service Mantra
With more than 3,200 flights daily, Southwest occasionally has to reschedule flights or cancel them altogether, usually due to severe weather. In the past, delayed and cancelled flights often created a massive spike in customer service requests, with customer service and support representatives handling a flood of inbound calls while airport agents faced longer customer service lines. As a company that prides itself on doing the right thing for its passengers, Southwest began using Varolii to call affected passengers, notify them of schedule changes, offer an apology and explain new arrangements. Positive passenger feedback led the airline to expand its use of proactive notifications and upgrade to the Varolii Unified Interact Platform to incorporate SMS and email.
Varolii has helped us transform the way we communicate with our customers with real-time, personalized information delivered over the communication channel each passenger prefers.

- Fred Taylor, Senior Manager of Proactive Customer Service Communications, Southwest Airlines

The Varolii Unified Interact Platform Enables Preferred SMS and Email Channels
Over the last year, Southwest noticed two trends that made it more important to contact passengers on their mobile devices. First, more voice messages were being left on passengers' home phone numbers after they had left for the airport—causing them to miss critical flight information. Second, many passengers started listing cell phone numbers and email addresses as their primary mode of communication when purchasing tickets. Southwest needed a way to reach these customers over their preferred channel while maintaining streamlined communications that integrated easily with its existing customer service infrastructure.  Southwest achieved both its goals by upgrading to the Varolii Unified Interact Platform, which offers a fully unified communications solution that enables easy and effective one-to-one communication that deliver the following:

  • Increased Proactive Passenger Outreach – By expanding its use of Varolii over the last year, Southwest has increased the number of flight notifications sent by 138 percent, the number of passengers notified by 28 percent and the number of “live” answers by passengers by 18 percent.
  • Reduced Inbound Calls – After receiving personalized messages from Varolii, passengers usually select new itineraries from the alternate flight options provided, without ever having to speak to an agent.  The automated system frees up agents to handle more complex itinerary changes.
  • Improved Contact Center Management – As a hosted solution, the Varolii Unified Interact Platform routes calls among Southwest's six contact centers to distribute inbound traffic based on agent capacity, thereby ensuring no contact center is overwhelmed and that callers won’t experience excessive hold times.

"Southwest relies on Varolii for more than just basic flight alerts," said Fred Taylor, senior manager of Proactive Customer Service Communications for Southwest Airlines. "Our goal is to reduce our passengers’ stress when their travel schedules change unexpectedly.  Varolii has helped us transform the way we communicate with our customers with real-time, personalized information delivered over the communication channel each passenger prefers."

"When you work with a company that’s as focused on customer service as Southwest Airlines, your technology must meet a very high standard—not only to achieve operational objectives, but to also truly delight the consumers who interact with it," said Jeffrey Read, executive vice president of Field Operations for Varolii. "The hallmark of any Varolii notification is that it’s highly personalized and provides valuable information that recipients can act on. We couldn’t be more pleased that Southwest and its passengers are reaping such great rewards from using Varolii."

Varolii works with several of the top airlines in the United States. For more information on the Varolii Unified Interact Platform, visit: http://www.varolii.com/Technology/Interact.aspx

About Southwest Airlines
After 38 years of service, Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other low fare carriers—offering a reliable product with exemplary Customer Service.  Southwest Airlines is the most productive airline in the sky and offers Customers a comfortable traveling experience, with all leather seats, all Boeing 737 jets.  Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded, currently serving 68 cities in 35 states (Southwest will launch service to Panama City Beach, FL on May 23, 2010).  Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,200 flights a day and has nearly 35,000 Employees systemwide.

About Varolii Corporation
Varolii is the market and technology leader in smart, automated communications. Its on-demand communication solutions help organizations easily and effectively reach and interact with large numbers of customers and employees, reducing operational costs and improving service. Varolii provides the industry’s only cross-channel communications technology, which blends voice, SMS and email into a single conversation and provides recipients with multiple options to take action. At the heart of the on-demand platform is Varolii ID™, which automatically analyzes each recipient’s past responses to personalize future communications. With Varolii, organizations can execute true 1-to-1 communication on a large scale, achieving better results from fewer notifications. More than 380 companies trust Varolii to send over four million communications every business day. For more information, visit
www.varolii.com .

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Jessica Kendall
Edelman PR for Varolii
206.268.2231
jessica.kendall@edelman.com