I had booked round trip tickets for the family on American airlines. The three seats were on the same record locator. We couldn’t make the trip and ended up cancelling the tickets. American Airlines allows the use of unused funds for a flight in the next 12 months (with a fee of $ 150 per seat). A few months later, I decided to use the unused funds for a flight for my daughter and I. There didn’t seem any way to do it online. I had to call AA reservations to ge it done.
The AA agent wanted to charge me $ 25 for making a phone call to make a reservation. I said that AA does not provide me a way to do it online and so they should not be charging me for making the phone call. She politely explained to me that it was the policy, while I tried to argue that the policy was not right. She ultimately got a bit pissed off. It seemed to me that she was implying that I did not understand the situation. I requested an escalation and went through the same routine with her manager. He agreed to wave the fee this one time, while suggesting that it was not a very difficult policy to understand.
I get it that companies make trade offs in terms of costs system upgrades, number of occurences of a particular type of case and number of customers it affects. They don’t seem to factor in customer dissatisfaction very well as it is difficult to measure. The airline industry has lost billions of dollars over the last few years. Providing a bad customer experience does not help the cause, especially when you try to rip off a loyal customer. (AAdvantage member since November 2000)
- As Jeff Bezos says, “Start with the customer and work backward”.
- Monetize only when you are creating value for your customer, not when the customer feels trapped.
- The phone reservation fee is to force more people to go online. Do not charge customers if they cannot do it online and the only option is to place a phone call.
- Accept that the policy is not right. Question the policy internally.
- Use the costs associated with fielding calls as a forcing function to make system changes.
- Don’t imply to the customer that he or she does not get it.