Pleasing the Customer

In one of my positions in the corporate world, I traveled about two weeks a month. We had a contract with United Airlines. Flights were plentiful from the Quad City Airport to Chicago, and then a connection would get me to my destination.

Coming home was much less rigid than it is today. If I arrived at the airport early, I could walk up to the counter and see if I could catch an earlier flight. Many times, I did. Sometimes, I could get to Chicago early. That was progress as I would be getting closer to home and was hopeful to see the kids.

Justin Bariso, writing for INC. Magazine (I assume a travel writer), must be on an email list from Scott Kirby, who is CEO of United Airlines. On Aug. 31, he received an email and a video from Scott communicating a, “big change in United Airlines procedures and…for the better.”

“To support you during your U.S. travels, we’ve decided to get rid of change fees for good,” said Kirby. Bariso takes the approach that Kirby has offered us as a lesson on emotional intelligence.

Kirby continued in the communication that United Airlines: “committed a cardinal sin when it comes to good business: no longer striving to please the customer.” Where have you been the last several years? Prior to the pandemic, it was common knowledge that airlines (United included) were creative in ways to “disservice” the customer, finding additional ways to charge outside of the cost to fly.

In my most recent flights, I refused to pay additional monies to select a seat. I hope that practice of charging for seat selection also becomes history.

I currently have two flight credits (one with Southwest and one with Delta where flights were cancelled or I needed to cancel). I was to attend a workshop last March (the Southwest flight) and missed out on the Wojtecki Family Reunion in July (Delta).

The airlines were very kind to grant me a year, or 18 months to use my fees paid, and not used due to cancellation. The Southwest flight has to be used by next March. Right now, it looks like I will not be flying during 2020, and likewise for the Delta credit which was extended through November of 2021. I am probably out the dollars to Southwest. A 2021 Family Reunion would be a good use of the Delta credits.

So, where is the emotional intelligence? Bariso sees the emotional intelligence in recognizing when one (United) is wrong, and takes action to make it right. Here, action is taken in light of very low passenger numbers.

One of the refreshing messages in all this chaos is Kirby’s claim that the company, “is ready to take a different, customer-service approach.”

I have stressed the importance and shared examples of customer service. The importance of good customer service must not be forgotten. I certainly hope that United becomes more creative in additional service to their customers. Doctor John is watching!