Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Case Study in Bad Service

I normally write about customer service in higher education but I have run into such a grievously bad customer service situation that I am going to use it as a short case study.

The company I am dealing with is American Airlines. It would appear, American Airlines does not care about its most loyal customers. Nor reply to emails.

With all the travel I do and with AA credit card points, I have accumulated 421,821points. My wife and I planned to use them to go to Europe to celebrate one year of new life with my new kidney as well as out 48th anniversary. We planned to use the points to get two business class seats through the AA miles program as a real treat. But when I went to book the two seats I found out that there are NO, that is NO,  mile saver seats  available from February 2017 through November 2017 and probably all year. Not a one. All that was available was a flight on British Airways and that had an add-on cost of $2,260.72 to use miles for a "free ticket".

It would appear that this is may be a deliberate plan of American Airlines to deny their most loyal customers benefits they have earned by flying AA in the past. American Airlines is turning its backs on loyal customers. As a customer service consultant since 1999, I can see that AA has no concept of customer service, hospitality or loyalty.

Looks like I and my twelve employees will be flying other airlines in the future if American does not step up and resolve this issue. As customer service consultants, you are also providing a great case study of how to not service customers which we could easily share with our readers and the thousands who attend our presentations and workshops annually.

I request that this issue be addressed. This can be solved easily by opening up two regular mile award business class seats as miles saver seats for us to go to Heathrow and return from Paris on American Airlines. They can be taken from business class miles reward seats and it would not even cost you anything to resolve this situation.

I am willing to look at most any date in March, April, May or even September or October.

Once we resolve the issue I will be glad to post that AA was responsive and I and my employees will again fly American. I have posted this letter on Facebook where it has received over 50 comments and an equal number of likes. I would be pleased to put up a post on Facebook and my blog that says AA has resolved the situation and I hope to be able to do so. 

But it also appears that American is not interested in solving this customer service issue. Their response to my letters has been to tell me that they cannot open up seats to try and solve this issue. There is no legal reason they cannot do it nor any ethical rationale holding them back, just a lack of customer service attitude. So far, American has resisted doing so or even contacting me about it other to say they cannot open up two seats

As a result, they will lose me and my employees as customers. I will not be retained by a company that does not respond to customers who have a problem and has offered a valid solution. I urge you to use other airlines too.

Now how does this apply to colleges and universities? That is simple. All classes have seat limits. Often there is a student who needs the class to move ahead in his program or even to graduate. Yet, some schools adhere to the seat limit even if there is not affixed number of available seats such as in an auditorium or lecture hall. They allow faculty to refuse to open up another seat.

This obviously makes the customer/student quite unhappy and even angry enough to say “the hell with this place.  I’ll take my credits and money elsewhere.” For lack of flexibility, the college can and does lose students when there is no logical, legal or ethical reason to not open up another seat in the class.

Does this happen? The experience we have had interviewing student while we conduct a campus service audit for a school says “yes”. This does happen. We have talked with students who have left a college because they could not get into a class they needed. They just got fed up with the poor service and transferred out.

This when a department chairman, a dean or a vie-president or even president should step in and open up a seat for the student who otherwise would be hurt by the lack of a seat in the class. This is when someone needs to stand up and do what is right. Otherwise for lack of a seat, the school can lose a student.

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