Extreme measures needed for a modicum of service

This article appeared originally in Gulf News: link to original article

Did you ever have your luggage mishandled by an airline company? Have you lost your luggage at any point when travelling from one place to another? I have … quite a few times.

I actually can’t remember flying on a GCC carrier, and their partners, without losing some of my luggage. This got to a point that my friends find it now very normal when I talk about losing my luggage again, and again and again. I only wish that every time this happens, a good customer service is provided.

It’s so bad that all I request — and keep requesting — is a decent customer service. That is one intended for fellow human beings. And note here please that the airline companies are at fault when losing the luggage. The article herewith provides four real life experiences, three of which are “bad” and only one is “good”.

Also, all of the bad experiences illustrate how powerful social media can be in altering the service provided, and how effective it can be later on when put into use in a very similar situation. (Experience 1 is used as a control experience for when social media was not a big deal, and Experience 2 is the only one where social media wasn’t needed for decent customer service to be provided.)

Experience 1

In 2009, a guitar player was travelling in the US carrying among his luggage his beloved guitar. When the luggage arrived, he found the guitar broken. He contacted the company, demanding an apology alongside a compensation for breaking his guitar. He also said he would use social media — YouTube back then — to publicise what the airline company did to him if they did not compensate him for his loss.

The company wrote back to wish him good luck in his social media plans. With more than 14 million views for his sarcastic clip on how airline companies handle baggage, the company came back, kindly requesting that he takes the clip offline. He did not. And the guitar brand company awarded him with three brand new guitars for the free advertisement he indirectly conducted via his sarcastic clip.

Experience 2

A few months ago, a newly-wed couple travelled from Barcelona to Genoa via Munich on a German airline. To check-in their baggage all the way through from Barcelona to Genoa, all flights had to be issued on one airline’s documents. Besides the technical details of this, and upon arriving in Genoa, one bag out of four was lost somewhere.

A report was filed via the baggage services section in Genoa’s airport. The employee was able to log into the system in front of her and find the exact location of the bag. She then told the couple that the bag was at Munich Airport and would be delivered on the flight scheduled the following day. She also promised the bag to be delivered to a hotel located approximately 35 kilometres away. She kept her promise with no social media involved.

Experience 3

The passenger, coming from a work trip in Europe via London, checked-in the luggage all the way to Dubai as transit time in London was too short. Having been issued all tickets by a GCC airline, that was made possible. The luggage never made it home and a complaint was recorded in the system.

It was not followed up later on by the airline’s staff, no updates were provided, and there was no way to track the luggage unlike in Experience 2. The employee ignored all incoming calls from the passenger, and sometimes deliberately hung up without answering. Like the case in Experience 1, the breakout of the case on social media ensured the track down and delivery of the luggage in less than 72 hours from the tweet’s retweet.

Experience 4

Upon arriving from a fishing trip, a couple of boxes were nowhere to be found. After attempting to file a complaint, and showing the supervisor of the shift what happened when they previously mishandled a case — the tweet and retweets mentioned in Experience 3 — the same passenger walked out of the airport in a couple of hours with all of his luggage with him.

As a customer, know that nothing justifies a bad service and that you having rights is not a mere slogan. The thought that I want to leave you with is this — Why does it always have to be an extreme measure for a decent service to be provided?

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