DALLAS — At the heart of Southwest Airlines sits its headquarters, a sprawling complex where decisions are made which affect the airline in the long-term. Company executives are always on the lookout for ways to make the airline more profitable, and that can come in a wide variety of ways, from fleet planning to supply chain to advertising.
One of the strengths of the building is the way in which it allows open channels of communication and ease of workflow. Hallways are lined with semi-open working areas with names that decorations that follow different themes, such as foreign languages and different decades. In fact, the building serves as a sort of museum for the company’s history, with photos and relics of the airline’s past tucked into every corner and covering every wall.
To keep employees engaged and productive, Southwest’s fun-loving attitude shines through even behind the scenes. From its legendary weekly deck parties for new employees to its whimsically themed “culture centers,” the headquarters complex embodies the attitude that loving what you do means never working a day in your life. Employee programming keeps the atmosphere upbeat and vibrant.
The most innovative department represented in the headquarters building is the new Listening Center. Inside, nine employees monitor the airline’s progress from a number of different sources, from social media to live news to operational performance data. Their job is to identify problems as soon as they happen and to reach out to customers impacted by operational deficiencies before minor problems spiral out of control into a PR nightmare.
If you’ve ever tweeted about a problem to @SouthwestAir or posted to the company’s Facebook page about a problem, this is the team that most likely responded to it, and they are empowered to make a number of decisions on the spot, including reservation changes for those who need it most. And in order to keep up with the increasing demand for social interaction with customers, the team is growing rapidly. As it stands, nearly all actionable customer complaints are addressed within a matter of minutes.