I feel like a lot of what I write is about “no-brainers”—things that seem so obvious it is hard to believe that everyone is not doing something in a certain way.
This morning, I was reading a Facebook chain that was started by a customer who was upset about insensitive treatment by an employee of an airline. It was regarding that rule which states an overweight person, who may occupy more than one seat as a result of his size, is required to purchase a second ticket. According to the customer, the gate agent loudly proclaimed in front of a full and busy gate area that this person was too heavy and needed to purchase the second seat. This agent made the customer go to the actual seat on the plane, again in front of everyone, to prove her point. Needless to say, if all did in fact transpire the way he described, it certainly was a humiliating experience. Now, the comments from others on Facebook were mixed. Some believed that if the customer was so humiliated, he shouldn’t have posted a very public complaint for even more people to see. Others felt sorry for the situation and were sympathetic. One person even said something along the lines of “one person does not a company make”.
I feel more sympathetic for the situation. Sometimes you have to be more public in your complaints. How many times have you written a letter or picked up the phone to express dissatisfaction and not even received a response. I know I have had that happen.
But more importantly, this gets back to some very important points.
• Do your employees understand your brand?
• Does your company even have a defined brand?
• Have your employees been trained properly in dealing with customers?
• What kind of brand training do you currently have in place?
• Is there ongoing training?
• Is the rule clear?
• Is the rule being consistently enforced company-wide?
• What are the steps that your company takes when missteps in customer service occur?
• Has your company highlighted the human aspect of business?
This particular type of instance with this particular airline is a complaint I know I have heard several times from customers. Therefore, I continue to hear customers complain about insensitive handling of a very sensitive situation with this particular airline rule by this same airline. I have heard “regular” people with this same complaint as well as a celebrity Hollywood director. And I have heard people say that they have flown this airline before without ever previously receiving this request to purchase an additional seat.
The comments on Facebook were mixed but I see this as a clear sign that the proper training is not being done with the employees. This issue has been publicized before with this very airline and if it happens, even once, there should have been some sort of “fixing” done so this never happens again. But it keeps happening.
I know my last experience with this airline was not a positive one. I was given incorrect information by both the gate agent and her supervisor, who then directed me to the 800 customer service line where I finally received the correct information. This was very basic information that a gate agent, and especially a supervisor, should know without question. Again, this shows me a lack of proper training. It is not the customer’s job to speak to 3 different people just to get the answer he should have gotten in the first place.
I would ask the questions—Why does this keep happening and what is going to be done to fix it?
After all, great customer service is at stake. And don’t forget, your customers are human beings.
Please contact Anna Brice at Pinnacle Peak Marketing, Scottsdale AZ about Marketing for Small/Medium Business.