COM0011 – Post #4 – WestJet’s “Hairy” Dress Code Debate

The age old debate about dress code has come again, but in this case, I find it very intriguing. To ask the question of company branding, versus an employee’s right to self-expression is always intriguing. In this particular case, a woman decided to quit her job at WestJet because they asked her to have a more natural hair style. She has a short, spikey hairdo with brown and blond colouring.

WestJet Employee

Janet Moore’s “Unnatural” Hairdo for WestJet Standards


I guess, for starters, I am surprised that they considered this to be an unacceptable hairstyle. I thought this was a fashionable and trendy hairdo, as opposed to a “punky” look. If, perhaps, there were unnatural colours, such as green and purple, then I would understand their concerns a bit more.

It is important to note that the company did not fire her, but rather asked to work with her to find a hairstyle that is more natural. She quit, because she felt offended, particularly as she always had this hairstyle, and was even interviewed and hired with this hairdo. At the same time, WestJet’s dress and appearance code also never changed since she was hired. “The company’s staff manual calls for employees to have natural looking nails, free of colourful polish, as well as natural looking hair colour.”

At the risk of sounding ageist, if I were 64 years old, even if I loved my job, I may also quit rather than give in, since I would be so close to retirement age (but that is also making the assumption that she planned on retiring at 65 years old). At the same time, going to the news about this, is, I suppose, her way of fighting it. Even if it does not benefit her, it may benefit others like her who still work for WestJet. After all, other companies have changed dress policies to be more relaxed. Even Starbucks now allows its employees to have visible tattoos (except for face and throat), which was previously against its appearance code.

On the branding side, WestJet is trying to build its image for an upcoming uniform change in 2015. With having new uniforms that match their branding, they are trying to re-emphasize the dress code to its employees.

So, I am going to throw it out there, knowing fully well that this is a very sensitive topic: Do you think that WestJet was justified in requesting this physical change from its employee?

(More information can be found in the CTV video and article:



COM0014 – Blog Post 4 – West Jet and the case of B2C

My good example of B2C is West Jet. Right from the start, West Jet publicized they were different from other airlines by the fact that they cared because they were owners too. After, when social media became the ‘norm’, West Jet did not lose a beat and started to engage their audience with online promotions, blogs, and videos. When Facebook came out with Pages, West Jet created two official pages (English and French) and engaged with the community. Same for their Twitter feed. If you follow their feed, there is an incredible amount of interactions and re-twits (positive or negative) in both official languages. Not only do they advertise their latest promotions, they also respond to questions and comments from the public. Their interactions are always polite and they show concern when it is appropriate. Overall, it seems that West Jet is one of the few Canadian companies that allocate time and resources to maintain communication lines with their consumers. In the large and competitive travel industry, West Jet distinguished themselves with care and humor  through yearly April Fools videos, Christmas Cheers, Flash Mobs, collaboration with the Toronto Blue Jays, community projects, etc.  The company was capable of involving itself in the community by being involved and contributing. Again, everybody knows that West Jet cares because they are West Jet owners too.
I follow West Jet on Twitter and Facebook. The company also regularly uses You Tube, Instagram, and a blog. Their interactions are about the people and not always about their latest promotions. They always try to provide solutions to complaints or show concern and empathy, especially if the travel situation is out of their control. They genuinely look like they value their customers and are listening to their needs. They often ask for contribution from the audience such as pictures, comments from trips and ‘tags’ from travel posts, etc.  West Jet also takes the time to ask their audience questions about various topics.
I think that West Jet is a good example of proactive B2C and a leading company when it comes to utilizing social media. They are posting more than once a day and are not afraid to interact with their audience, even if it means answering unhappy customers.

COMM0014: Blog #4 – WestJet soars in social media

When I think about some great B2C marketing campaigns that I’ve seen recently, one company that really stands out is WestJet.

From their “owners” days to their more recent Christmas miracle campaign and salute to women in aviation, WestJet has made an impression as a caring and customer-oriented business.

The company uses social media, especially Twitter and YouTube, as a way to connect and interact with their customers. They’re also connected on Facebook and Instagram, where they focus more on contests and promotions, including pushing out pictures and videos of travel tips to gorgeous destinations.

Their social campaigns seem to be working, especially on Twitter, where they have 317,000 followers, almost double the following that Air Canada has. From a customer service perspective, one thing I really appreciate, which I notice more and more companies doing, is posting the hours they’ll be online. WestJet tweets when they sign off each night and provides alternate contact information. And when dealing with complaints, they don’t just apologize, they ask for details so they can follow up.

They also make some pretty smart decisions on social. Do you remember the cold weather delays at airports early in January? WestJet posted a video message on social media apologizing for the delays, explaining what the company was going to do to help the situation and letting people know where to find more information. I think that was a more personable alternative to a written message and apparently others agreed. The video received a number of understanding comments from customers, which was impressive given the stressful situation they were faced with.

When it comes to flights, for the most part I’m looking at price, but I think that customer service is becoming pretty important after some very negative experiences with some airlines. I’ve never had any major issues with WestJet and have always been greeted with a smile. And, to me at least, their presence on social media reflects the in-person interactions I’ve had with their staff.

It’s important to highlight that it’s not all positive. I noticed a tweet from a customer a few days ago stating that WestJet is too busy to reply to emails, to which the company replied that they’re 3-4 weeks behind. So it seems like, while they have put a lot of focus on responding to customers in the social world, they may have let some other more traditional methods of interaction slip.

I know you can’t be all things to all people, but do you think it’s appropriate to delegate a large number of resources towards the all-important social media world, even if it means letting some of your other customer service areas slip?

COM0015 Blog #2 | Social Media Heroes and Zeroes

Social media heroThe Heroes
I’ve always maintained that my top two social media heroes are WestJet and Starbucks. These are two of my favourite companies. Not only do I enjoy their products and services, but I like their brands. Both companies believe in building a community with their employees and customers. This sense of community—of accountability, of corporate social responsibility and of building something beyond a business-to-consumer relationship—is what drives the actions of both companies, including their social media activities.

WestJet maintains an impressive following on social media with over 244,700 followers on Twitter and over 463,900 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote ticket sales, services and destinations, respond to feedback and inform people of flight delays, career opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share travel plans and pictures. Sharing pictures is especially popular on Winglet Wednesdays where passengers take a picture of the plane’s winglet—the near vertical extension of the wing tip—and post it to Twitter using the hashtag #wingletwednesday. This is a great way to have some fun while promoting the various destinations to where WestJet flies.

WestJet is excellent at responding to questions and comments in a timely and empathetic way. WestJet is also a fun company with a sense of humour and it shows through in its posts—jokes (its April Fool’s Day prank of a new Furry Family program was particularly good), entertaining questions to spark lighthearted discussions, pictures of staff and guests enjoying themselves and of the scenic destinations where it flies. But what impresses me most is WestJet’s ability to remain professional and to handle negative feedback positively, always working towards resolution.

WestJet is an airline that really cares for its customers—online and in the air.

Like WestJet, Starbucks Canada maintains an impressive following on social media with over 93,300 followers on Twitter and over 642,400 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote its products, respond to feedback and share job opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share favourite menu items and pictures. I especially like how Starbucks sells its products through social media by posting either tantalizing pictures of its drinks and food items or comforting pictures of, say, a drink cup next to a novel or a cup with a sweater cozy. Through these images, Starbucks is attempting to make an emotional connection with its followers, selling them an experience.

Starbucks is also excellent at engaging with its followers. It wants to know what people like about the Starbucks experience and what it can do to improve. The My Starbucks Idea allows people to suggest new products and services via an online forum. Others can then discuss and vote on the idea. Ideas with the most votes receive serious consideration from the company and can be implemented. The soft pretzels that Starbucks has introduced to its line up of baked goods are due to someone’s Starbucks Idea. Starbucks is also very good at answering people’s questions via Twitter and Facebook. From personal experience, questions directed to the company were answered within 24 hours.

Starbucks aims to share great coffee with its friends, and it does this both in its stores and online.

The Zero: Metro
Calling Metro a zero is a bit harsh since it does have a Facebook page, with over 99,500 fans, that it uses to promote its online flyer, products and recipes—along with enticing pictures—respond to customers’ questions and engage them by asking them about their favourite recipes and other food-related questions. However, not only is Metro missing an opportunity to engage with people on Twitter as it does on Facebook, it’s missing the chance to gather input on its existing and potential product-lines (Selection and Irresistible brands). This focus-group type activity could be done through Facebook or Twitter, or it could be done through an online discussion forum that’s integrated into Metro’s website. Metro is also missing the opportunity to be of service to people by providing them with consumer alerts and tips on healthy eating and food safety.

Metro could learn from its competitor, Loblaws—another social media hero—on the benefits a comprehensive social media strategy could have on a grocery chain.

What social media heroes or zeros have you encountered?

Image by JD Hancock