Southwest Airlines is using Salesforce Service Cloud's accessibility tools to consolidate client information on a single accessible platform for customer service reps, the two companies said Wednesday. The airline began adopting the platform's accessibility tools in 2018, and announced the rollout at the Dreamforce conference, which took place this week in San Francisco.
The Lightning Service Console plugs customer data formerly housed in 15 different platforms into one place that's accessible for reps who are visually impaired. The system features high contrast, supports a set of keyboard shortcuts and is compatible with screen readers.
As part of the beta testing stage of implementation, Southwest gathered input from sighted and visually impaired customer service reps. The tool is configurable, allowing reps who primarily rely on visual inputs to arrange information sources as they wish.
Opening work processes to ensure accessibility can strengthen company culture and employee satisfaction. It also enables companies to tap into a broader workforce as labor markets strain.
In the case of Southwest, leaders see the move to an accessible tool set as an investment in customer satisfaction.
If employees feel confident in sharing what works for them, they will feel "more confident and empowered to deliver the right type of customer experience," said James Ashworth, Southwest VP of Customer Support and Services, in the announcement.
Southwest, whose planes complete 4,000 daily flights, is aiming to meet expanding consumer expectations without losing a personal level of interaction as it scales. That tension pushes the company to "grow its capabilities" to meet customers where they are and in the channels they prefer, said Erica Tyler, Southwest’s director of business strategy, in the announcement.
Gartner projects the maturity of accessibility tools, along with their increased adoption at the enterprise level, will unlock new talent pools for the tech sector.
But workplaces will only become fully accessible if CIOs "make it a core principle to build accessibility into everything they do," said Daryl Plummer, distinguished vice president and Gartner fellow, speaking at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando, Florida, in October.
CIOs, in turn, must ensure accessibility is a shared responsibility that spans the team, including — but not limited to — designers, UX writers, presentation developers and quality assurance testers.