Customer Service Lessons From United Airlines – Partners

April 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

IMG_1583Most of the products we sell today are commodities…but your service level can make or break your customer relationships, and especially services rendered by partners on your behalf.

For the past 4 days I have been going back and forth between representatives at United to locate my suitcase.  What a disaster this has been.  Every time I speak with a new person to get an update, they think my bag is in a different city.  Finally I get a call from the people who deliver United bags – http://www.wheresmysuitcase.com – they have my bag and will call in one hour to arrange delivery.

Well, an hour later, no word.  Later that evening I called them, but they did not know where my bag was.  The next morning I contacted United and they didn’t know either.  I asked the representative at United to check on this with the bag delivery company, but the bag delivery company claimed that they had no record of me.  “How can that be?” I asked.  The United person was not able to get an answer to this question, so I contacted the bag delivery people personally.  I spoke with Chris on the phone who had no idea – in fact, he sort of insisted that they did not call me. But their number was on my caller ID, so they must have.  After some back and  forth on this, trying to get Chris to look further into this or at least agree that they must have called me – he hung up on me.  At that point I called Chris back to get his name, which amazingly he did give me. He then said, “If I do see your bag I am not going to deliver it to you!”  This is amazing to me – if you ever have a partner tell one of your customers something like this – make sure they terminate that employee immediately.

Finally, later that morning I did get a call from someone at United who took ownership of the problem, went out and found my bag, and is holding it for me.  At this point I would rather take the three hour trip than risk them putting my bag in the hands of http://www.wheresmysuitcase.com.  In the end, the United rep understood, agreed to hold my bag there, and offered me a free flight voucher – she did the right  thing.  Know who your customers are interfacing with and who represents your brand on your behalf.  Make sure they uphold the brand you’ve established and understand how difficult it is for you to win over a new client.  You can’t afford to lose clients that actually spend money with you.  Note:  I’ve flown nearly around the world twice this month on United…I’m definitely a paying customer.

©  2013, David Stelzl

 

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