Behind the scenes with Southwest Airlines’ social media ‘Listening Center’

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(ABC) — In Dallas, a team of 40 customer service experts take turns around the clock monitoring Southwest Airlines‘ various social channels with one primary goal: to listen to you. Their job becomes even more important this week as more than 24 million travelers are expected to fly for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Southwest’s “Listening Center,” as it’s called, is often where the airline will first hear of any problems or incidents surrounding its service.

In today’s era of heightened tension between airlines and passengers, Southwest sees it as essential to tackle these issues as quickly as possible.

“Things that you may not think were a big issue now can become a monster issue for you if you’re not responding in a very expedient manner,” said Matt Hafner, vice president of network operations control at Southwest.

The team is able to address virtually all customer concerns themselves without bumping the passenger to another department.

Related: Thanksgiving travel predicted to be worst in a decade

According to Southwest, they are well versed in company policies and procedures and have the tools to assist passengers with everything ranging from reservations and baggage to a customer’s frequent flier account.

Every year, the nation’s busiest airline receives 2,500 to 3,000 inbound posts per day on Twitter and Facebook and all posts are reviewed to determine which ones require action. About a third of the posts Southwest receives are travel-related questions and another third are issues passengers are experiencing typically before and during travel.

Some are more positive.

Some are negative.

Regardless, Twitter seems to be the fastest way to get a response from the Dallas-based airline.

The team is operating around the clock to attend to every actionable question or comment. On average, from 2015 to 2016 Southwest saw an 11 percent increase in inbound posts, and from 2016 to 2017, a 14 percent increase.

These posts allow Southwest to identify pain points for customers and ultimately make informed business decisions.

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