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Yahoo! News has an interesting column, by Adam Toporek, a customer experience expert, about the power of anticipatory customer service. He cites as an example how, after having paid $8 for WiFi service on a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to San Diego, he discovered that the WiFi wasn't working.

"The situation made me think of one of the core concepts we discuss here on the blog and in our workshops about the hassle factor and the idea of customer effort. This situation is a perfect example of how small hassles can affect the customer experience.

"After seeing the charge, I added 'call Southwest for a refund' to my To Do list. The charge was so small, however, that it never made it to the top of the list. The situation was mildly annoying, but more important matters always got placed on top of it."

But then, he got an email from Southwest informing him that the $8 charge had been reversed, and Toporek writes that "the proactive systems that Southwest must have in place to flag bad WiFi on a flight, know who paid for it, and to process their refund are extremely impressive."

Toporek writes that "by following up after the fact, Southwest was able to resolve a small issue without any extra effort on my part … The takeaway for all customer experience professionals is how important proactive service recovery can be around small things."
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