WestJet: Excellence in Customer Service

Case Details Case Introduction 1 Case Introduction 2 Case Excerpts

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When the company was incorporated, the founders were of the view that to make a mark in the highly competitive Canadian industry, it was necessary for something more than highly efficient operations. They wanted to do away with the impersonal, mechanical customer service and provide a flying experience that was friendly and enjoyable.

The founders were of the view that to provide the kind of customer service they were planning, it was necessary for the people working at WestJet to show a caring attitude toward the passengers and also toward their co-workers. The culture at WestJet was guided by a set of values, which emphasized a friendly and caring attitude toward customers. (Refer to Table I for WestJet - Values).

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From the time a customer encountered WestJet, the experience he / she would have was evident. The callers, if they were put on hold, got to hear interesting messages. One of the messages was, ‘Wait, wait, wait, wait. Are you tired of waiting? Too bad. We will be with you as soon as we can.’ This was followed by some jokes...


The experience continued when the travelers boarded the flight. After the passengers had taken their seats, flight attendants announced, ‘This is a non-smoking flight. If you must smoke please step out the back door’! Flight attendants regularly entertained passengers with jokes, and even the usual messages of flight safety practices were laced with humor. Every plane had a book called the ‘Just Plane Fun Book’ which contained jokes, gags, and games compiled by the employees...


Incentives, a good culture and work environment, and open communication helped the founders to position WestJet as a fun airline. With all the employees having a share in the company, there was a feeling among them of working for themselves. There was a total absence of hierarchy and everybody, irrespective of their position in the company, pitched in to help others to get the work done on time and to serve the customers....


The caring culture and ownership mentality had been the cornerstones of WestJet since its inception. This was reflected in empowered employees and remained one of the main reasons for the exceptional customer service at the airline.

From time to time, WestJet organized several events to surprise and impress customers. On February 14, 2006, guests were offered gift certificates as part of the celebrations of Valentine’s Day. In 2009, guests with the last names Valentine, Love, Rose, Sweet, Heart, and Hart were offered $14 flights tickets for destinations within Canada on February 14...


However, not everyone was happy with the way WestJet functioned. There were reports that with the growth, customer service was taking a back seat. In 2013, one of the federal government’s decisions allowed WestJet to reduce the number of cabin crew from the required ratio of one to 40 to one flight attendant for every 50 passengers. Since October 2013, WestJet had been flying as per the new norms with one flight attendant per 50 passengers. Michel Cournoyer, President of the airline division of Canadian Union of Public Employees, said, “A ratio of one flight attendant per 30 passengers on board an Air France plane that crash-landed in Toronto in 2005 and then caught fire, helped save the lives of all people on board….The only difference is that the Conservative government is now putting airline companies’ profits ahead of passenger safety....


Exhibit I:WestJet Aircrafts and Destinations

Exhibit II:The Guest Service plan

Exhibit III:On-Time Performance