The difference between losing a customer forever and gaining their loyalty can be as simple as the service they receive. Within just a few days, I experienced both terrible and stellar customer service. Here are three examples of extreme customer service.
How to Lose a Customer
Reports about poor airline service aren't rare. I'm generally of the mind that a flight that gets you from point A to point B safely is a good flight. However, a couple of recent experiences with United and Frontier made me rethink my stance.
After deciding to use my racked up United points to book a few trips, it took several calls and sixty minute wait times just to speak with somebody. When I finally got a rep on the phone, only one of the flights I needed was available because the others were “sold out” for flyers using points.
What They Should Have Done
There is so much technology that United could have used, including:
1. Callback options from a company like Virtual Hold. Rather than remain on hold for an hour (which costs them in phone charges!), I would have preferred to have them call me at a designated time.
2. Live chat through a company like LivePerson or BoldChat, or even co-browsing from LiveLook. While I was on the web, they could have helped me book a flight via live chat.
3. Virtual Characters from Creative Virtual or IntelliResponse that would ask me questions and help me schedule a flight.I sincerely hope that they have speech analytics in place.
For years, I've flown Frontier. Recently, they unbundled their services, which I didn't realize until I showed up for my flight. When I found out that you now have to pay for carry-on luggage, I approached the ground crew and said that I couldn’t believe the new policy. They directed me to head back to the “Departures” desk to purchase a ticket for my carry-ons. Out of anger (and with an expletive thrown in), I said, “You’ve got to me kidding me!” His response was shocking: “I’m not f-ing kidding you. Go back.” Luckily, the ground hostess who was next to him was more appropriate and she managed to diffuse the situation – otherwise, I'd be blogging about this from a jail cell.
Once I settled into my seat, I found out that the airline now charges for coffee during a four hour flight. Thoroughly annoyed, I Tweeted my disapproval and was surprised to get an immediate response. The reply said, “I’m sorry you didn’t receive the level of respect you deserved. Pls let us know which flt you were on today,” with a follow-up Tweet that said, “Our station manager knows what happened.” That was it – no other attention was paid to me. Unfortunately for Frontier, I also use their credit card. Since they left me feeling like I am not a valued customer, I canceled the card and will never fly with them again.
What They Should Have Done
1. Ground Crew Training: This is clearly not a technology issue, but if your personnel doesn't know how to talk to an irate customer, they shouldn't remain in personnel for long! This is true for all employees, too. In a multi-channel world, every contact is your front door.
2. Voice of the Customer (VOC) Programs: If Frontier keeps this up, their stock will likely go down. VOC programs will not only alert upper management that this is happening, but will also give the reason.
3. Social Media Monitoring: Social media is a great tool, but only when used correctly. Frontier immediately identified that I was unhappy, which is great, but then they didn't do anything about it! This problem can be tracked back to poor training. What is Frontier’s policy for negative comments? Do they have a corporate policy? What are their contact center agents counseled to do with negative comments?
Unfortunately, Southwest does not fly everywhere.
How to Gain Customer Loyalty
During a Starbucks run, I ordered a cup of decaf, which took them longer than usual to make. I grabbed a table and decided to get some work done on my laptop. The baristas apologized a few times for the long wait and when they finally brought over my coffee, they had a gift card for me that was good for any Starbucks drink. This wasn’t a necessary gesture, but it was an excellent customer service touch and one that I’ll definitely remember the next time I head out for a cup of joe.
What Should They Have Done
Nothing – they're just perfect!