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Kissed by an Elk
Sitka in the Khalarhi
Black and White
Creating a Customer for Life, or not.
Nov 9, 2008
I began writing this post at 1:45 am, Friday night, laying on my back on the floor of LAX. The family and I just finished the first leg, of our two flight return, from Hawaii on United Airlines. A five hour flight, landing at 9 pm, a one and a half hour layover, and then 1 more hour and we land in San Francisco. Thirty minutes before take-off, getting ready to board, we are told that the flight is delayed due to mechanical problems. At 10:35 pm, we are updated again, the plane has been grounded, next available flight is 6 am the next morning. No other airlines are flying to the Bay Area that night. Not the end of the world, but it surely sucks after the kids have been great for 5 hours on the first flight, and then additional 2 hours in the airport. So, we make a quick call to United to get booked for the 6 am flight, as there is already a line of 20 people at the desk. Not a problem, we can book you, but to get a hotel room comp'd by the airline, you have to wait in line to talk to the clerk at the counter, at the specific gate of departure. Fair enough, but, we have 2 kids that need to sleep, and it's now almost 11 pm. No dice, you have to wait in line. Well, let's assume that the airline folks would then take a second to consider the needs of their customers...who needs what, and in what priority? Elderly? People with early a.m. engagements? Families with kids that need sleep? No, that would be asking to much. Please get in line, like everyone else. OK, the line is only 20 or so long.
Two hours later, we make it to the desk. All the local hotels that United can book us in, are full. The closest one in the system is a 40 minute drive. However, we can give you a lot of vouchers for flights.
Vouchers for flights? That's not what we needed. What we needed was for someone to understand what our needs were, and how to best service them. How do you not notice two kids, under age 5, in line? If there had been 100 people, that's different. But no, there were enough people that one attendant could have spent 5 minutes walking up and down the line to get an idea of what people might need. Anne made two phone calls, literally 2 minutes, and had us a hotel room that was 5 minutes away, for $85. At that point, out of spite, we took the path of the martyr, swiped a pile of blankets, and made camp for the next flight...boarding in 5 hours.
You cannot underestimate the power of customer service...branding customer service. It's no question why Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin and eroding the market from underneath the juggernauts. There's no reason we shouldn't be doing the same.
From the picture it looks like you closed the bar...very familiar to Sun Valley...both times
jenglish Posted At 11/11/2008 02:12 PM
It was torture, looking at a closed bar...all night.
Jonathan Posted At 11/11/2008 12:23 PM
"Organizations that destroy the status quo win. Whatever the status quo is, changing it gives you the opportunity to be remarkable."--Seth Godin Tribes.
Agreed this was a chance for United to do something remarkable and they fell remarkably short. Was there at least a bar close by?
Jason Hairston Posted At 11/11/2008 11:10 AM
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