Last November, Southwest Airlines Listening Center staffers were monitoring a screen displaying a social media word cloud when an alarming tweet went out in Los Angeles.
A passenger waiting to deplane from another airline tweeted that they were delayed because there was a gunman in LAX. Other tweets about a shooting began boiling up on Southwest’s word cloud screen.
The center called operational staff and spokespeople. “They didn’t know what we were talking about,” says Ashley Pettit, social business advisor at the airline.
Within 15 minutes they called back. The chatter was right. A gunman had shot dead a Transportation Security Administration employee and wounded others.
And so, the importance of Southwest’s Listening Center was proven almost as soon as it started, allowing the airline to notify staff, issue safety messages, and prepare press statements.