Southwest Airlines' recent drama reminds us that customer service is a team effort

DENVER - The internet went crazy when news spread of a Minneapolis man who was forced off a Southwest Airlines flight, when he live-tweeting poor customer service. The man and his family were allowed back on the flight after resolving the dispute. The airline apologized for the incident.

However, the Twitter-verse was quick to condemn Southwest. Many users shared their own frustration, not only with Southwest Airlines, but with air travel in general.

It's no wonder. Customer research agency, Temkin, reports that travelers have a poor perception of airlines in the U.S. Less than half of those flying with the eight major carriers reported a positive experience. Why are so many Americans unhappy with air service?

An industry report may have found the answer. U.S. airlines are the most profitable, but also provide the most uncomfortable coach-class experience. It's part of a trend to maximize profits by charging for basic in-flight amenities and fitting more passengers into aircrafts. Companies, not just airlines, are streamlining services and sometimes this comes at the expense of quality or customer service.

Consumers can't always control bad customer service, but with a few tips, we can control our response.

Use companies that leave customers with a good impression
Yelp, Foursquare, and Angie's List all use the wisdom of the crowds to rate everything from restaurants to mortuaries. A little research before you pay for a service can enhance your experience.

Provide both positive and negative feedback
Sometimes complaining gets results, but it's a poor way to build a relationship with an often-used provider. Share the good experiences that you have with a company.

Be your own advocate
If you get bad customer service, escalate the issue through the proper channels until the problem is resolved.

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