case study of south west airlines

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The service quality Distance model developed by Parasuraman et al. (1985) is a valuable method for performing gap analysis in marketing. It tackles the discrepancies in consistency that have been found as a result of the disparity in what is predicted and what is currently done. In a case study conducted by Bunz and Maes (1998), South West Airlines stands out as one of the firms that have been able to properly resolve the model's holes.

South West Airlines goes beyond and above to close the connectivity divide. The airline maintains direct contact with its customers by actively listening to and reacting to each argument, suggestion, or problem posed by the customer. As explained by the CEO, every individual that writes to the airline gets a personal response within 4 weeks. The CEO welcomes input from customers as it points towards areas to improve on and also tells him of the performance of his employees. This move also allows the airline to close the listening gap. Closing this gap also means that management is offering what the client is expecting because it communicates and listens to the needs of the client (Bunz & Maes, 1998).

To close the service performance gap, the management of the airline has empowered all employees to be leaders in their capacities. Employees are allowed to make suggestions and decisions based on their judgment according to the situation on the ground. A lean employment structure and regular training minimizes cases of hierarchical thinking. South West Airline has a company’s University of the People which trains employees regularly. Additionally, top level management also gets involved in ground work to connect with employees and customers allowing them to design practical policies and service designs from first-hand experience consequently addressing the service performance gap (Bunz & Maes, 1998).


Bunz U, K., & Maes J, d. (1998). Case studies.Learning excellence: South West Airlines’

approach.Managing Service Qaulity 8 (3), 163-169.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A. & Berry, L.L. (1985). A conceptual model of service quality

and its implications for future research. Journal of Marketing, 49(4), 41-50.

December 08, 2022

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