It’s rare these days that a company impresses with customer service. It’s even rarer when that company is an airline, especially an American airline. That’s the experience I had last week when I was flying home from New Orleans on United Airlines.
It started out pretty awful. A few hours before my flight I received a text message that my flight was delayed. Then another. By the time I arrived at the airport, my originating flight had been delayed more than two hours, ensuring that I’d miss my connecting flight in Denver. As it got close to the new departure time, we were told that there was a mechanical issue. After a string of “we’re waiting for an update” announcements, we finally boarded three hours later when a new plane arrived.
Based on experience, I was braced for the worst when I arrived in Denver: a 90 minute wait for a harried customer service rep who would look for every excuse to not put me up for the night. Before leaving New Orleans, I’d tweeted “United already knows who will misconnect. What are the odds they’ll be proactive and have hotel vouchers waiting?” I would’ve placed them at 1000:1, best case.
But that’s exactly what happened. After we landed the gate agent came on board and announced that they had prepared packets with hotel and meal vouchers for everyone who was stranded. Three people were staffing the desk, despite the fact that we arrived around 2 a.m. They were polite and directed us to the hotel shuttles.
Within 20 minutes of landing in San Francisco the next day, there was an apology in my email box for the inconvenience. A link in the email invited me to select from a list of appreciation items, including a $250 travel certificate.
The immediacy and the proactive nature of the response made a very positive impression. It’s great to see companies using IT in this way.