Category Archives: Customer Service

United we stand, United we fall

Its fair to say that most of my flying in recent years would come down to 3 current Airlines, American, Delta, and Aer Lingus. There was also US Airways, but they are now part of American, so…lets talk about someone else!

As far as I can remember, I’ve only ever flown twice on United Airlines in my life. The first, around the turn of the century, was an uneventful trip to Richmond, Virginia, via Chicago from Heathrow. It was in fact my first solo trip to the US, and all I vaguely remember is the long queues at Immigration in Chicago. So long that they actually took my case and loaded it onto my next flight before I got through to get it.

The second, and final time was a flight to Seattle, and though the service was OK, the fun started when I got back to Chicago. At Seattle they had been surprised when they couldnt issue my boarding pass for my second flight, but then I found out why, when I got to Chicago, they’d cancelled the flight, not that they really seemed to care! I actually got out that night, after complaining, via Heathrow, but obviously was late into Manchester, and they didnt do as requested and inform the people picking me up over here as to what was happening. So that was it, never again, I pledged. In fact, shortly after that, the Chicago route changed, first to British Midland (equally as bad), and then American (decent service), and I found it easy to ignore them after that.

So yes, I’d forgotten all about United until recently, and their ‘magic moments’. I dont know enough about their rules for people flying on free/reduced company tickets to comment too loudly on the recent leggings issue, but it was children, not likely to be assumed to be airline staff, so heavy handed was a fair comment. Not as heavy handed as at the weekend, clearly! Just when Delta thought they might get bad publicity for their cancellation issues because of weather in Atlanta, along come United to rescue them, and make them look like saints! Hopefully you’ve heard the tale of how not to deal with paying passengers, to get staff travelling for free on a plane, surely?

Heard tonight that their share price has fallen dramatically, presumably on top of all the bad publicity everywhere, especially on social media, so…I dont think United will be having so many insufficient seat issues in the near future! Hope not, anyway! Seriously, one social media disaster is bad, but 2 in about a month, oh dear me! The CEO blamed the passenger, no one else, absolutely unbelievable. Ah well…

Right, video time. Frightening to realise this is nearly 50 years old, and I remember it, but…For those who remember the 80’s reincarnation of Brotherhood Of Man, this isnt them! This, as Tony Burrows probably gives away, was a session version from 1970. Not one member of this group was in the second band, but anyway…

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It ain’t what you do…

…Its the way that you do it! Yes, tell me about it.

In truth, when it comes to receiving customer service, I’m probably more forgiving than most, because its an area I’ve worked in for much of my life. However, there are times, and people who even drive me to frustration, and yes, I met one on Friday.

The rule I’ve always applied personally, is, if in doubt, ask someone, and make sure you’re doing the right thing. It has led to moments when I’ve been 99.9% certain that I’m right, but still feel its better just to make sure, especially on critical matters. Anyway, on Friday…

Normally, when I have anything to do with foreign currency prepaid credit cards, I head to Thomas Cook, as I did on Friday. Their card does all I need, and the staff in Huddersfield know exactly what they’re doing, and you get smooth, professional service. To cut a long story short, I was over in Bradford on Friday, so I thought I’d get it done over there. Not a wise move!

I guess I should have taken the hint when the woman behind the counter was fighting a losing battle to put a currency order into the system, and asked me to wait while she sorted it out. As I now know, like a fool, I did! I should have walked out the door, there and then, but fine, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I rather gathered she’d never had to issue, and activate a prepaid card before. So after a few minutes of trying to convince the system let her do it, she gave up, and asked for help. The snag was, the woman who she called for help had never done one either. So, instead of the 5 minutes I have spent in the past doing this, in Huddersfield, we were now up to 15 minutes, and no closer to getting it issued than when I had walked in!

Eventually they said they’d won the battle, and quoted me a dollar figure for the amount I was handing over. I misheard, or I would have said something because the figure they put through was ridiculously low. Yes, instead of giving me the sell rate, of around $1.20, they gave me the buy back rate about $1.11! But I only realized this after they’d handed me everything, including the receipt. After all that time (about 25 minutes), I wasnt inclined to start again, for about the sake of $4.50, as I was only putting a small amount on the card to get it active.

So, got it home, registered the card online. Yes, its showing up, but no, its not showing any balance! My suspicion, they havent confirmed something, or they’ve confused the system with the exchange rate they’ve used, or something? So now, on Tuesday, I’m going to have to go into Thomas Cook, in Huddersfield, on my day off, and get the whole matter sorted out. All because 2 people, who admitted they didnt know what they were doing, couldnt ask someone who did, or ask me to go to another branch where they would!

Yes, I’m glad thats not my regular branch! I’ll stick with Huddersfield in future!

The video, as so often, a clue in the blog title. An, err, interesting live vocals performance by a group of people who I suspect were more used to lip syncing!

Trying To Keep The Customer Satisfied

Yes, pretty much a major part of work in any call centre I’ve worked in, but in honesty, thats not what this is about. Well, there was one call centre that seemed to want to annoy their customers, but enough of that…

Loyalty cards, or more pertinent with many firms nowadays, loyalty accounts, without the card.

Yes, I’ve got a few, and its fair to say that they do influence my choices. Hotel wise, I’m always likely to give first glance to Choice Hotels, before others, because I’m a member of their scheme, and get respected, and treated accordingly. Indeed, its fair to say that if one of their hotels, and an opposition one offer a similar deal for LA next year, I’ll probably be loyal! See, they work!

For the same reason, 3, now 2 airlines always had a pull over others for the same reason. Delta, and their partners, and now, American Airlines (the other was US Airlines, who are now one and the same) have the same advantage over others. I am actually a Silver grade at Delta this year, but of course, never got the chance to use it! Ah well…

But yes, in terms of free nights, or cheap flights (you have to pay fees), I’ve not yet got enough to profit from them. Mainly because the hotels are pretty much all in the US, and the Airlines would require an international flight (far more points), but slowly, I’m getting there.

So fine, the more exciting freebies are still a little bit beyond me at present, but on a more mundane level… Especially when you’re trying to keep every penny possible, finding somewhere nearby, relatively cheap for lunch, while working, was pretty important. Thankfully there are 2 that fit that bill. So yes, I’m the proud owner of a Subway loyalty card, and slowly building up a few points on that. I have no idea how many points I have to get to for a free lunch, but someday I’ll get there! I also have no idea if I will be able to use it in the US, as well as the UK, but thats a while off, anyway.

But the pertinent one, is a lovely little bakery shop, called Greggs. So every time you buy a coffee, even as part of a lunch deal, you have this little card marked, and when you’ve bought 9, you are entitled to a free one! Wednesday, I bought my 9th coffee, with my lunch, and was due a free one. So when, on Friday, I had a straightforward journey to work (first time in weeks, due to roadworks), I arrived at work with a few minutes to spare, so I went and got myself a nice cup of coffee, for free!

I know, its only a small thing, but given it was my first reward for customer loyalty, hey, it was fun! I know, easily satisfied lol!

The video, for those as old as me, or with good memories, you make have worked it out. If not, wait no more…

The blind leading the blind?

Fine, I was going to do something different, and something I cant believe might happen, but as the gentleman hasnt been seen all weekend, it might well be that he’s seen sense re me, and doing something remarkable, so lets put a hold on that, for now at least.

So, in that case, lets focus on the obvious subjects, me, and work. Well, unsurprisingly, I survived 2 weeks of customer service training, and 2 weeks dealing with customer service issues, but lets face it, with my work history, it would be more worrying if I didnt! But fine, now the fun stuff starts, even if, by irony, I’m not going to have to put these talents to the test. For better, or for worse, entertainment wise, the better job offer approaches, so I’ll go through training, but then…move on, unless something strange happens. I must say the pay issues make me feel less guilty about going, as does sly digs about my inability to get to Leeds for 7.30 am starts (not mentioned at the interview, was told 9.00!), and keeping the role.

Yes, tomorrow is the start of Technical Services training. Now, this should be fun, because as a few friends at least will know, my technical knowledge is limited, to put it mildly. The running joke I make, is that I’m more interested in being controlled by technology, than being in control of it! So yes, this could be, err, an experience! Looking at it positively, if I gain any knowledge through this part of the course, it can only be a good thing, right? But yes, the idea of me being a tech expert, is about as likely as me being a ……., which is what I thought I’d be writing about, so…? 😉 No, Stacie, you arent allowed to tell people what that is, either! 😛

Fine, I dont know how much of what I will learn will be of use to me in the outside world, as opposed to the job, but we will see? All the same, at the end of the fortnight, I might know a bit more about technology than I do now! Not that its hard for that to happen, but anyway…OK, one thing I’m not looking forward to, that 9.00 start all week. Means leaving here early, which means getting up very early, but…I’ll survive!

The video choice? Well, you might say that if I was giving out tech advice, this might be a fair description of how things would be? No, not the original, but a Postmodern Jukebox delight, set in a 50’s diner, pure heaven!

Good old American Airlines…not!

Sorry, I’m not normally one for piling on the dirt on anyone, well other than Trans Pennine Express at least, but…This is the tale of a company dropping themselves further and further into a hole, lol

If you read yesterdays piece, you know by now that AA (for short) misfired with the plane to Chicago, the only reason we were ever given being an operational decision. What that excuse means, anybody’s guess? But no, that isnt the cause of todays hilarity, this is.

Just over a month ago, I sent an email to their customer services dept re wearing my enhancers while flying with them. Given they dont do security issues, the TSA do over here, and they were more than happy for me to wear them, this should be straightforward, anything but!

Principally, until this morning, Seattle time, I never heard back from them. That is, over a month, for a 6 line email! So, as is already known, I wore them for the flight Saturday, and again the bonus, oh dear we messed up and had to rearrange, flight on Sunday on to here. Not  a problem, not a murmur from anyone, as James would say, they probably assumed they were naturally me, I wish!

So, ah ha, this morning I have an email from AA concerning my query. No, not the one about possible compensation for my hotel bill for Saturday created at Manchester Airport, which I by now assumed, but this ancient email sent over a month ago! Basically, unless the enhancers were surgically implanted (which I had told them they werent), I shouldnt wear them on the flight when I made it, even though the TSA said it was fine to do so!

Sadly, the email was sent from one of those ‘no reply’ addresses that so many firms seem to employ nowadays, or I would have broken the news to them, that too late, it had already happened…twice! In a sense now, I’m glad it didnt arrive, and that I just went with TSA advice instead!

I’d been told by a friend that AA had gone downhill since the liquidation protection thing, and sad to say, they werent joking. The crew on board the planes were good,but customer service, and reliability seem to have gone out of the window with this firm. Fortunately, in September, I’m flying with Aer Lingus!

The video, an extremely loose connection, thats all. AA’s local flight thing is called American Eagle, and so…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDI7x1nwTUw