Customer Service Gone Wrong

Customer Service Gone Wrong


Customer service is the lifeline of any business.   From product presentation to salesmanship and from sale to follow up, the ability to identify and respond to a customer’s needs is not only the foundation of a successful business but the launch pad for repeat business and referral marketing.  Today with social media, it has never been easier.  Your reputation is built and earned one customer at a time.  How do you stack up?

I fly all the time for business purposes.  Usually, I am on an airplane anywhere from 2 to 6 times per week.  When I am lucky, I fly Jetblue, Virgin America, Delta or United, but on occasion I get stuck on American Airlines.  In fact, over a 3 week period, I’ve flown American Airlines over 10 times.  Looking for the wrong customer service model? Look at American Airlines.

On my flight from Santa Ana to Dallas, we experienced an hour and a half delay.  Hey, things happen, right? Then, on the way to the airport in Dallas, my seat was changed from the extra leg-room window that I paid for to a middle-seat in the back of the plane.  Oh, but I would get the extra money refunded to me, as if that were some recompense for having altered my itinerary and subsequently disabling me from working in flight.  And then the cake topper: the flight was delayed over an hour and a half.  What did us tired business travelers looking to reach home and get to sleep in own beds get? An apology along the lines of, “Sorry we’re having mechanical problems.  We will try to leave as soon as possible.”

Twitter is a great platform to communicate with your customers on.  So I reached out to American Airlines (@AmericanAir) on Twitter and got the same result.  No substance, no support, just a generic, robotic, we could care less about you type of message that did nothing but get me sick in the cab on the way to the airport.  In the real estate business, if I screwed up 2 out of 3 deals that I was working on, I’d need another job.  If a quarterback threw 2 interceptions for every touchdown pass, he’d be warming the bench fast.  1/3 is failing, people.

Customer service is so easy.  In the apartment business, we help our residents through a number of thank you and other concessionary allowances to show our appreciation for their business.  We understand that they have many choices when it comes to deciding where they want to live and that they chose us over someone else.  A restaurant cares and will go to great lengths to ensure customer satisfaction.  So what is it about American Airlines? Do they not care? Are they too big to care? No one is.  American Airlines just doesn’t understand how customer service works.  About the only thing they do right is apologize.