Prest’O Change’O . . . The disappearance of customer service

Is it just me or have you noticed that customer service isn’t what it used to be? It’s as if we are watching some kind of a magic show where the magician shouts out,  “Prest’o Change’o”, wave the manic wand, and poof, it’s gone.

Maybe my expectations are too high? But I’m not talking about the over the top, jumping through hoops, five star treatment here. I’m talking about the very basic, “taking care of the customer” treatment. I’m sure you know what I’m referring to but let me give you an example of an actual situation that happened this past weekend.

After her month long Christmas break, my daughter was heading back to Baton Rouge, where she attends college at LSU. Instead of leaving her car parked on campus while she was gone, she left her car at a friends house in Lafayette. Now the only airline that flys into Lafayette, without out multiple stops, is American Airlines. Yes, the same American Airlines that became the most recent airline to file for bankruptcy. Being home for almost a month meant that she would be checking bags. Anyone who flys knows that checking in at the counter these days requires some patience. So she checks in online before we go to the airport so all we have to do is check the bag. Simple right?

As we are standing in line, with roughly 100 other customers, I notice that there are only two “customer service” representatives working the counter. Knowing that this might take awhile, I quietly tell myself, “be calm, there is plenty of time”.  As the line slowly progresses, I’m wondering why this is taking so long and then suddenly, one of the customer service reps just up and walks away. Unbelievable! Disappearing just as if she was part of the magician’s magic show.

Standing in line for the next 15 minutes, I remembered an article I read recently about American Airlines’s purchase of 460 new planes, their huge cash reserves,and their hefty executive compensation. Filing for bankruptcy these days is not necessarily a financial matter but a business strategy. Plead poverty, cut cost, get more concessions from labor, and make poor customer service the norm.

No wonder American Airlines  made the list of the most hated companies in America. Keep up this type of customer service and and they’ll end up just the like that customer service rep, gone. Ah, the magic of American Airlines.

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Categories: Sales

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