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Southwest Airlines: Digital Wayfinding Design & Prototype

In 2017, Southwest Airlines made some big changes to its brand

They rolled out some big new planes. They outfitted their people in stylish new uniforms and revamped their cabins. Their in-flight game was tight, but when customers walked through the door of the airport, their experience wasn’t quite up to the same level. So, Southwest Airlines worked with EPAM Continuum to improve the in-airport customer experience.

Key Challenges

While Southwest was known for deliv­ering best-in-class hospitality on their airplanes, they brought in EPAM Continuum to help improve the in-airport customer expe­rience, so travelers could get to their destination confidently while spending less time worrying about the journey.

We began by talking with customers, frontline employees, and Southwest’s operations teams to understand the broader context and the operational constraints. Based on these conversa­tions, we identified three challenges that needed to be solved:

  • Lack of Clear & Accurate Information
  • Excessive Gate Crowding
  • Need for More Meaningful Customer Service

Solution Highlights

Working closely with Southwest’s innovation, operations and data science teams, we designed a new digital wayfinding system to guide customers through the airport. Based on customer and employee feedback, we redesigned all of the existing airport signage and added new sign types at key locations throughout the airport. Each sign in the new system was fully digital and location-aware, so that we could tailor each sign based on time of day, flight status and customer needs.

The Results

Customers recognized and responded positively to the natural language and personality of Southwest throughout the system: 96% of customers said the new signs made it easier to navigate the airport, and customers rated the usefulness of the new system as 4.77 on a 5-point scale. The added information improved the overall usability of the airport and the digital signage dramatically helped those with visual impairments. Employees have already noticed a reduced number of repetitive customer questions – specifically, questions about connecting flights and flight capacity. General confusion regarding active flights in each gate area has decreased appreciably with the new system.

You can find the original case study from EPAM Continuum here.


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