Who are your Customer Casualties?

not happyWhat happened to the days of customer satisfaction? The airlines have began treating passengers like they work for them and not the other way around. Recently, while on a business trip to California I had the chance to leave a day early. When I called American Airlines to get out on an earlier flight, they quoted me a price 3 times what I paid for the whole trip. While this twisted logic has always been a common place in the airline industry; however, what I didn’t understand was why they continued to let planes leave half empty? I asked the phone service representative if they could let me know if it would be worthwhile checking out of my hotel and turning in my rental car to fly standby. According to the rep “Go down to the airport, I am not going to be able to help you” . Economically the best decision I could make was to keep the hotel and car, I knew explaining a $1,000  change fee to the Travel and Expense department would be a painful process. I arrived at SFO 8 hours early for my flight the next day, the American Airlines rep ended up giving me a standby on a flight that was leaving 4 hours earlier with a few strings attached. “Mr. Morganelli we value your business” Untrue… “I just want to inform you that next week when you fly American you can no longer standby for free.” No big surprise…. “Don’t get your hopes up, if our partner airline cancels a flight their passenger will take your place on the plane.” Say what….

Everyone is in business to make money, but at what cost? I have not flown American Airlines since and avoid them whenever possible. Increasingly, policy wins out over customer service. I see it time and time again, senior leadership makes an informed decision based on facts and figures and the people who execute on those decisions are afraid to think about the customer. If that phone representative, desk clerk and finally supervisor at American Airlines were looking at the big picture they would see that they were going to lose an AAdvantage Member and subsequently any future flights I had in my travel pipeline. I know what you are thinking, so what losing a few thousand of Tom’s dollars are not going to make an impact. Consider this, if their policies and service cause 10 customer casualties a day that is 300 customers a month (an entire flight), 3,600 passengers a year or a revenue loss of an estimated one million, two hundred sixty thousand dollars. This revenue loss causes the airline to institute policies such as charging up to $50.00 for carry-on causing a loss of even more passengers to competitive airlines. To think, this all could have been avoided by basic customer service.