With coffee in hand one morning, I started the painful daily task of cleaning out my inbox. In the mix of stuff was an email from the airline I have flown almost exclusively for the last eight years and it changed the course of my entire day. The news regarding my loyalty program wasn’t good. It was the last straw in a growing pile of frustrating changes that I refused to be trapped under anymore. I went from “I love you”, to “OK I’ll hang in there”, to “We are breaking up!” in the last two years. After verifying that I wasn’t alone on a few social media channels, the deal was officially sealed in my mind and I was done. I am sure that my fellow frequent fliers will agree that biting the bullet and changing an airline is a pretty major deal. So I began my journey to pick a new airline.

A few days later after randomly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed full of wedding pictures, back to school shots and new puppies, I noticed a friend had shared a Southwest video and called it The Big Reveal. My friend is an employee of Southwest and loves it (and of course is compelled to share and spread the word). This is relevant because Southwest is on my short list of candidates. The video was of an employee event unveiling the new paint job for their planes. Riveting? YES! I want to fly for an airline that a) goes through the effort to excite their employees like that and b) gets their employees that pumped over new paint.

Watch the video and note the people videoing the video. In fact, you can find employees posting and sharing it all over the place. What got me was that the cheers were strongest when the precious Heart was displayed.

(Photo credit: Southwest/Stephen M. Keller)

Intrigued, my research took a different direction. I didn’t evaluate pricing, routes or customer sentiment, I wanted to know how Southwest was engaging its employees. Plenty is written up on their approach. This Forbes article spells out the back story pretty well and the symbolism of the heart. I love what Southwest looks for in their employees, “a warrior spirit, servant’s heart, a fun-luving attitude.” They also use an empathy test in the interview process.

I wanted to share this story because it is real and speaks to the notion that you can’t put a price on employee advocacy and evangelism. Because of that “random” Facebook post from a friend, it made my decision journey and subsequent choice easy. I am picking Southwest. Again, I want to invest in a brand that invests in their people. And, a singing crew might be an entertaining bonus!

But, don’t take my word for it. There are other great models to learn from featured in the material below.

  • Mitel has a program called Mitel Champions. This article is a good piece on how Mitel engages employees to create and share content.
  • EA recently participated in a webinar and outlined a practical approach in terms of planning for and executing on an employee advocate program. You can access the summary and slides here.
  • Food for thought on what it takes to change a culture and why it is so important from WCG
  • The ComBlu team worked with Allstate and launched a brand ambassador program from strategy to platform

How will you engage your employees to take your company to the next level? Do share!

Jennifer Voisard

Jennifer Voisard

Senior Consultant

Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.

Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.

She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.