Customer Care – How To Let Your Customers Feel Sub-Par!

Customer Care

In this age of new and improved technology, where information flows freely and readily, what differentiates a company or what gravitates customers to buy from Company A instead of Company B could very well be the TLC (Tender Loving Care) customers felt accorded to / showered upon them.

Spare a moment to imagine this scenario: you are going to spend $100 to purchase a pair of jeans.  You went to the shopping mall, check out the clothing stores and there are 2 stores that have the jeans you wanted.  When you enter Store A, the store assistants are warm and welcoming, they let you browse through the merchandise without interference and they magically appear when you need assistance.  You tried a couple of pairs, of different sizes and the store assistants are always happily serving you and providing their honest comments.  You enter Store B, the store assistants are cold and just let  you browse around but when you need assistance, they pretend you are transparent.  Which store will you purchase the jeans from?  Without a doubt, I will buy from Store A, even if it costs a dollar or two higher.  I felt I am being treated as a person, as well as treasured as a valued customer in Store A.

How To Let Your Customers Feel Sub-Par

Just use a cynical and sarcastic tone – this sure works!

Previously, I used to travel frequently on this airlines and as their loyal customer, have chalked up quite a number of miles.  In a recent personal trip, I decided to use some of these miles to redeem a free travel.  For the economy class, there are 3 types of redemption: Saver Plus (lowest number of miles required), Saver and Standard (highest number of miles required).  The flight was booked using the Saver Plus option.

For the return flight, as I had completed my tasks earlier, I decided to go to the airport early and check if I could board an earlier flight back.  When I went to the counter to make the enquiry, the staff checked the system and in a rather sarcastic and cynical tone, informed that as I was using the Saver Plus, I am not entitled to be waitlisted for the earlier flight.  How does this feel? Ouch…painful, it hurts!  It makes you feel so sub-par.  So much for being a loyal customer!

To be fair to the airlines, if everyone redeems a ticket using the lowest number of miles and then request to board on a different date / time, it may be detrimental to operational planning or frequent flyers abusing the system.  Looking at this from another angle, is there any compelling reason not to give a Saver Plus passenger a chance to be waitlisted?  Perhaps, the usual excuse that the system is not flexible enough to handle this?

If there is a free seat for the amended flight, this passenger on the waitlist is given a chance to board and the flight takes off as per normal.  If there is a free seat and this passenger does not get to board due to not being entitled to wait-listing, the flight still takes off but the passenger is not happy as he / she is not given the chance to be waitlisted at all.  If the passenger manages to take the earlier flight, the seat on the originally booked flight will be freed up and the airlines has the opportunity to fill it up with a fare paying passenger.  Even if the seat is not filled, the flight can still take off (maybe on lower fuel usage?).  The airlines has nothing to lose and a lot to gain just by being a little flexible and allows the redeemed miles passenger to be entitled to be waitlisted for a different flight.

And you know what?  To rub salt on wounds, the original booked flight was delayed by about 2 hours, with the saving grace that all affected passengers were given some monies to spend at the airport to fill their stomachs.  For all travelers, I believe for all monies in the world, nothing can compensate the time spent with family members and loved ones!

What are your thoughts / suggestions or am I just being too critical and unreasonable?

For every businesses, a little flexibility and empathy in customer care will always go a long way…..


How To Make Customers Feel Sub-Par


P.S. For those who did not catch the joke in the video, if you look around the waiting lounge, there are no other passengers but the Reception staff still insists to board passengers according to pre-defined script and not based on the situation on the ground.

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