U.S. airlines that treat their customers the best also are the most financially successful, according to a new report from Watermark Consulting.


Airlines that provided a superior customer-service experience – JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines, according to J.D. Powers – vastly outperformed average industry stock earnings over a six-year period as measured by Dow Jones and Moody’s, according to the Watermark Customer Experience ROI Study.

“Airlines get quite a lift from a great customer experience,” said Jon Picoult, founder and CEO of Watermark Consulting.

The study noted, “All three airlines recognize the importance of creating a workplace culture that fosters customer experience excellence. While they don’t have identical cultures, they do have distinctive, customer-centric cultures.”

These three carriers also “give their workforce the necessary training and decision latitude so employees have both the motivation and the authority to serve customers with distinction,” according to Watermark.

In addition, the airlines demonstrate effectively that they put their customers’ needs first:

“Southwest eliminates concealed fees (such as baggage and ticket change charges) with its “Transfarency” approach. JetBlue allows families to pool and share their mileage points, so they can earn award trips faster. And Alaska Airlines offers a 20-minute baggage delivery guarantee, backed by actual passenger compensation,” the study noted.

“It’s an experience that infuses humanity and hospitality into an industry that is notably devoid of it,” the study concluded. “It’s an experience that builds shareholder value, by growing revenues and controlling expenses. It’s an experience that, quite simply, allows these widely admired airlines – like all customer experience leading firms – to repeatedly reach new heights.”