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The Digital Innovation Playbook: Creating a Transformative Customer Experience by Nicholas J. Webb

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Chapter 5

Flying High

AN OPEN CULTURE KEEPS AN AIRLINE COMPANY ON TOP OF THE COMPETITION

When Southwest Airlines made its first venture into the digital world, it utilized video—a medium discussed in the last chapter that has revolutionized the social web. Video was a great jumping off point for the company, but Southwest Airlines’ success is best noted when looking at the broader picture—a culture that fits the evolution of digital and new media innovation like a glove.

As I've mentioned throughout this book, the key to successful digital and new media strategies is an organizational culture that fosters openness and customer connectivity. Many organizations are afraid of the idea of allowing their customers to connect to the employees at various levels within the organization. Their fear is primarily based on the fact that many organizations don't have happy employees that, frankly, don't do a good job of delivering good customer experiences.

The foundation, then, for a great new media strategy is a functional organization, that is, an organization that communicates freely, that has torn down the organization silos, and has created an company comprised of employees that have a central focus on delivering customer value. I know that in large organizations with a lot of bureaucracy and massive numbers of employees, such a culture can seem almost impossible. Yet it does happen.

Southwest Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world. They operate in one of the world's most ...

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