Southwest gets accessibility assistance from Salesforce Service Cloud

The airlines' collaboration is on point with its brand to be 'the most loved airline' as it ensures the 25% of disabled Americans and the 1 in 10 who work at Southwest have accessibility.

How Salesforce builds loyalty by investing in the success of its developers, admins, and customers At Salesforce TrailheaDX 2019, Sarah Franklin spoke with TechRepublic about what makes the company's relationship with developers, admins, and customers.

Southwest Airlines wants to live up to its reputation and brand and improve the company's accessibility for customers and employees. 

"We want to be the most loved airline in the world," said James Ashworth, Southwest vice president of customer support and services, in a recent Salesforce blog.  "And the world includes people with disabilities." 

To facilitate the airline, Southwest availed of Salesforce Service Cloud to provide accessibility for the Southwest Customer Support and Service team as well as its customers. "It's about letting technology do what technology does best," said Erica Tyler, Southwest's director of business strategy, in the same blog, "so that humans can do what humans do best, connect and help each other."

Visual aids

"As someone who's visually impaired and using accessibility tools in my personal and professional life, I knew we needed a partner who was as passionate about accessibility as we were," Ashworth added. "I believe that Southwest Airlines and Salesforce share DNA, because our cultures are alike in a whole lot of ways."

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Ashworth also noted that the best way to accommodate Southwest's customers with disabilities is to talk with employees with disabilities, and Ashworth used critical information from those reps to customize Service Cloud to their needs.

Salesforce research showed that employees who feel a sense of belonging at work are more than five times more likely to perform better than those who don't.

An inclusive culture

Tyler emphasized that Southwest understands and encourage an inclusive office culture, "Whether you're hearing impaired or visually impaired, Service Cloud opens up more opportunities to engage with our customers."

For those who are visually impaired, Service Cloud's screen readers offer

  • a set of keyboard shortcuts
  • high-color contrast to navigate the Lightning Service Console
  • an accessible, 360-degree customer view 

 
Prior to engaging Salesforce, Southwest reps had to use as many as 15 different tools to compile customer data.  

Service Cloud's tool is "configurable," Ashworth said. "An employee might say, 'Hey, I'd like the information in the top left-hand corner here' or 'I'd like a certain dataset over in the bottom corner.'" Representatives who are sighted and visually impaired both participate in the beta-testing stage of implementation.

Service Cloud's accessibility access 

"It's about our people being able to drive what the service console looks like for them," Ashworth explained. "It's about a diverse group of employees sitting down with us at headquarters and really telling us what they want their experience with this tool set to look like. If our employees feel confident that we listen to them, they feel more confident and empowered to deliver the right type of customer experience."

Additionally, Service Cloud 's accessible chat functionality has proven essential to hearing and visually impaired employees and customers. "We heard from a family — the entire family was hearing impaired — and they just wanted to tell us how pleased they were that we offered this channel," Tyler said. "They felt more of a connection with Southwest."

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