Monday, February 1, 2016

Let's Change Customer Service This Year!

Well, I made up my mind to put some efforts in changing today’s bad customer service and will exchange all personal bad experience with my readers this year (anyway hoping not to have many).  We all are experiencing unsatisfactory customer service interactions here and there, but in most cases we keep our emotions to ourselves, thinking that nobody cares, or that it’s pointless to complain. In this way we let it slide without any punishment, make a mental note to avoid the company in the future, and that’s it.

My previous article was about airlines’ bad service, and today’s experience is related to hotels. Both services are very popular nowadays for many people who travel for both pleasure and business.

Recently I had an unpleasant customer service experience with a well-known hotel chain Citadines, a member of The Ascott - a Singapore company known as the world's largest international serviced residence owner-operator, functioning in 95 cities across 27 countries.
Citadines is one of its three award-winning brands which we liked during our vacation spent in Lyon last summer. As all loyal customers, we decided to spend our winter vacation in the same brand, but this time in Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s our neighboring country and it is usually a four-hour ride from Yerevan where I live.
So, without even imagining that we’ll have any force majeure, we booked a non-refundable family room for four people. When we heard the weather forecast with heavy snowstorms for the next few days, we sent an email to announce about the weather “surprise” we had, asking to cancel our reservation. Well, we “may” have reached Tbilisi in fourteen hours instead of four, but when you travel with kids, you try not to disturb them so much.
Soon we received a reply from the hotel representative asking for our phone number to speak to us. We called the hotel, and the lady told that when their management is back, they hope to refund our money back. Afterwards we received another email, saying that they cannot refund, instead next time when we book the hotel, they will make some discounts. 
I couldn’t imagine, that the “reputation” of a worldwide operator could cost 550$. Is this a huge amount for a hotel chain? Was it worth spreading the world about hotel bad experience? I am complaining not about Tbilisi, but the whole chain policies and normal human interactions.
My next step was tweeting to the company, and imagine, they have a “good” social care - the respond came the next day with the usual regretting tone for the bad experience we had, asking for the details of our reservation… Anyway they haven’t refunded. Later on we received an email, saying that they will try to make 50% discount on our next arrival. And what would you do in our place? Would you book the same hotel any more after all this?
They really had an opportunity to turn our negative experience into a positive one, an opportunity to make us remain loyal and not walk away. But reality is that they earned 550$ instead of maybe thousands of dollars, and which is more important – they could escape negative word-of-mouth. 
This is today’s reality and I am sure many people all over the world experienced such incidents. But time changes and we should express our opinion, tell about our poor experience in hope that one day we’ll really have a better service with better human interactions. We should build our future! Build it today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Recognizing Airlines Poor Customer Service

If the customer service is the new marketing, this means many airlines lack marketing at all. I thought that I’m the only complainer in my surrounding, but after reflecting my “mood” on social channels, I did understand that it’s a global problem and should be solved somehow.
I’ve been traveling much recently, and I already know that US domestic flights almost never depart on time, accordingly arrivals are also late. You may be lucky a few times, but it’s just a chance.
Another thing is when you arrive in the airport and they say that the landed plane is too small and some of the passengers cannot get on board. “We are sorry, but you can take another flight tomorrow only”. But do I have that tomorrow at my disposal? And why should I stay one more day away from family? Yes, this happened to me while travelling from Bozeman, Montana to LA. And that was United Airlines. But United is not an exceptional example of a bad service.
When you have multiple flights with a company, you can use your bonus miles, right? And this is the only reason I’ve been travelling with Aeroflot for many times. It really used to be a good company, but what happened to it?  
Once I had to wait three hours on board in New York airport, we even had lunch during this period - I never had any meal on board before the flight in my life...
Then this happened again, but with a two-hour delay. But today I started thinking that the world doesn’t like “Russian airline”, maybe it’s politics? My London flight was also delayed…
But the delays are not the only reason for my “unmoody”post. Last time one steward made me very angry. Personal behavior is worse than company’s one, and the steward’s bad service was a slap for me. In case of flight delays many reasons can be found, sometimes even reasonable ones, but the crew selection factor is within an airline’s control, within their customer service obligations.
Imagine sitting in the plane for two hours waiting for the flight. You cannot sit any more, especially thinking that after departure you’ll have to sit nine more hours to get to your destination. I stood a while, and then walked in the direction of the 1st class. It was 70 percent empty. A steward was approaching from the economy class… “I’m sorry, can I change my place from the economy class?” was my question to him. He replied in a very rude way “NO” and left. 
I started thinking how impolite he was, he could have explained me that he had no right to do so, as my ticket was a cheap one, etc. Although I heard thousand times, that passengers give some 50-100 dollars to crew members and they change their seats without any difficulty. Money works everywhere…
Well, I went to my seat. Three hours later I could think about nothing, but standing. I decided to walk to the lavatory to stand a bit. A man was sleeping with his feet stretched in the front row. He was alone in that row, two vacant seats next to him. I sat to stretch my feet for a while, when I noticed the same “Sergey” passing by. He looked strangely at me and came back, asking if that was my seat. I explained that I sit next to the window in the same economy class, next to a fat lady and decided to have some rest here…
“You should return to your place, and the sooner, the better”, was his reply. But why? In this case I was in the same class, I wasn’t disturbing anyone, and I used to change my seat lots of times with different companies and never had such a bad experience with the crew.
I was more than insulted. Now when customer service is a priority in every field, for any biz, when we do speak about exceptional customer service in all the parts of the world, why do you keep such rude and unfriendly employees, Aeroflot? Why do you put the company reputation in the hands of such individuals? Why should a steward change the face of the whole company? Why Aeroflot, why…