United Took My Weekend
Flight delays are nothing to write about, it happens to all of us, we hate it but we just learn to live with it.
As we are getting close to the WebRTC World conference it reminded me of my flight experience going to the previous WebRTC conference in Atlanta (June). A trip that took flight delays and bad service to the extreme.
The story in short
I’ll spare you the details and give you only the highlights:
- 9 hours delay on the way out of Israel to Atlanta forcing me to take a different flight
- Flight cancellation from Atlanta to Newark…had to wait another day at Newark hence missing a good part of my weekend
- Hard time getting a place to sleep from the airline
- And there is more…
You can safely assume all these required a lot of interaction with customer service both at the airport and remotely with the contact center.
Customer service problems
The problems getting around with customer service can be split to:
- Being able to get to a representative
- Getting real help from the representative
For both of these, technology alone is not enough to solve the issues.
The human factor
All along my experience described above the answers I got from United officials were somewhat in the form of “I am not empowered to do anything”. They were really frustrated and complained about it (I’ll spare you the words they had to say about the company they work for). Personally I believe that someone who feels so bad about the company he works for should go look for a new challenge but that is sometimes easy to say, hard to do.
The magic word that could have changed everything was…. EMPOWERED.
That covers the “Getting real help from the representative” thing but in order to get help you first need to get to the representative.
Adding technology to the mix
In many customer service intensive companies crew on site gets overloaded with peak traffic causing long lines and frustrated customers.
Offloading customers to the contact center can cut lines significantly, save cost to the company and make the customer happy.
In the example above, in 2 cases, over a hundred passengers had to wait in line being served by 2 representatives.
If passengers were directed to the contact center through kiosks or even through their laptop or mobile, things would have been different.
Phone numbers and links can be allocated instantly as an incident occurs. Customers can be directed to them and the agents would already know the reason for the call.
Technology to offload customers to remote contact centers through means as described here exists for many years. We didn’t have to wait for WebRTC in order to build a kiosk or make a VoIP call. WebRTC just makes it easier to implement and in some cases improves experience.
Technology is not the problem
From the above it is easy to conclude, technology isn’t the issue. It is the attention, the desire to make customer service better.
This will happen only if employees feel it is up to them, and they have the power to make the difference.
Companies will be surprised what improvement they can achieve in their customer care by using available technology and empowering their employees.