Now that you've seen my pics about my whirlwind trip to Tokyo, let's talk about some of the less pleasant aspects of the trip (and contrast them with the pleasant ones).
As most of you know, my trip was cut short because American Airlines canceled my original flight to L.A. I know no one purposely caused a maintenance problem on the plane, but how they managed the customers afterward was entirely in their control.
I stood in line for longer than an hour waiting to speak to the employees who were rebooking all the jilted passengers on the flight. As I stood there, I was searching flights on other airlines and trying to see if I could still get to L.A. and to Tokyo the same day. When I finally got to the counter and explained how I NEEDED to be in L.A. before 2 p.m., they told me "Flying is risky." HUH? "Why didn't you book my entire trip with one airline?" WHAT? You're interrogating me about how I planned my trip when YOUR airline fugged up? So, they didn't try at all to get me to L.A. when I needed to be there, but offered to book me on another flight that would get me to L.A. at 6 p.m., when being in L.A. was useless to me.
After I sobbed in a seat, I went back to trying to book my own flight. Finally, I told them to put me on the same scheduled flight for Tuesday, which they did and not with a big ole apologetic grin. No, chick at the counter was like "Whatever." I promptly got on the phone and demanded that somebody at American Airlines give me back my money. They couldn't do that because I was already booked on another flight.
Travel vouchers? No.
You realize you just cost me a day in my hotel. Sorry.
Disgusted, I went back home, resigned. Then I got mad and got back on the phone with American Airlines. And, apparently, somebody had taught this young woman I spoke to next how to treat a customer. I told her the situation and said I wanted my money back. She promptly refunded it.
I told her that I wanted my money back for the bag fee I paid. She tried to get it back, couldn't on her system, and told me EXACTLY where to go on the Web site to request a refund, which I did while I was still on the phone with her.
When we were done, I asked her name again. She told me, apologize for the trouble and thanked me for my business. I hung up, went back to the same place on the Web site and then sent in a commendation. I wrote an e-mail explaining how helpful she had been when several other American Airline employees were terrible.
When I got back from Tokyo, my check for the $15 bag checking fee was in my mailbox. Betta had.
But was that so hard? What stopped the three other people I spoke to from doing what this girl did in five minutes? Regardless of whether this was a fluke, someone was having a bad day or a bad life or whatever, I WON'T be flying American again.
My experience with Singapore Air and at the airport in Tokyo was a stark contrast. The check-in agent was swift and polite. Before I knew what happened, I was checked in and the agent was all smiles. When I called the airline to explain what happened, they booked me on the flight the next day and waived the change fees.
So, to American Airlines, and any other company that decides reconciling problems for your customers isn't important today:
In the digitial age, all I have to do is blast you on every blog I can find. Why treat people badly when you don't know how it will come back to you? As if your industry is doing so well you can afford to mistreat people. Oh no, it's not like there aren't a dozen other airlines competeing for the same business.
I'm not sure what happened to customer service, but it died. I will spend my money where I am treated like my money is appreciated! Or I will keep my money to myself. I don't have to tolerate bad attitudes, incompetence, sllooooowww service or any other customer service No-Nos.
Customer service is the difference between me shopping with you every time and encouraging other to do so and me NEVER dealing with you again and discouraging others from patronizing your business. Word travels fast -- look what happened to the American auto companies. They were suffering from bad PR from the 1980s! You don't guilt, threaten or assume people into patronizing your business. You work to satisfy their needs and wants and make their experience with you pleasant.
Take a lesson from the Japanese -- Politeness was paramount. If one person couldn't help me, they found someone who could. If they couldn't help me at all, they apologized. If anyone rolled their eyes or muttered about me under their breath, they weren't dumb enough to do it so I could see or hear them!
Customer service in not intangible. It translates directly to dollars. Mine, you won't see again.