A few months back, I had the most unpleasant travel experience on American Airlines. I needed to return home a day earlier than initially booked and so I purchased a business class one way ticket to ensure I was able to arrive home as needed. Well to make a long story short after NUMEROUS delays and inconveniences, I finally arrived at my destination at 1am the day I had originally booked. As a result of this experience, I decided that American Airlines would remain a very last option for me.
Now, American Airlines did provide a $200 voucher on future travel for the inconvenience. This is one method they use to recover disgruntled clients. I decided to utilize the voucher to assist with a ticket for my son to return to college after the upcoming Christmas break. The process to redeem this ticket was EXTREMELY frustrating. If you are trying to recover a customer or providing them with a credit for inconveniencing them, your recovery process should be seamless, smooth and customer friendly.
Here’s what happened:
- I tried to redeem the voucher online. This was not possible. The online reservation would not accept the voucher number and kept indicating that an error occurred.
- I tried to redeem the voucher by phone. This was not possible. I was told by the agent on the phone that the way that particular voucher worked was by mail in redemption. Are you serious????? You mail me voucher and then I must book a ticket and mail the voucher back for a credit refund? I challenged this process and was then advised I could to DRIVE to the airport to let the agent at the airport redeem it for me.
- I drive to the airport and the agent tries to redeem the voucher but the system would not accept it. She calls to get help from another local agent in the back office but to no avail. She then calls American Airlines Customer Service where she was advised that the voucher could not be redeemed for the rate I was booking. Are you kidding me???? After I drive 45 minutes to get there???? What a slap in the face. Why provide a credit voucher with limitations which were NEVER explained in the apology letter?
- The agent tries again. This time she was transferred to the IT department for assistance. She had to, for the 4th time, explain the situation. Finally, after spending an HOUR of my time at the airport, the agent was able to redeem the voucher towards the reservation and process my credit card to cover the balance of the fare.
The agent’s persistence and drive to redeem the voucher is commendable. She had just a few minutes remaining in her shift when I arrived but stayed overtime to assist. She could have simply said there was no way to redeem it and left at the end of her shift but she didn’t. Her desire to provide me with a resolution was indeed refreshing and appreciated.
Nevertheless, customer recovery should not create another inconvenience! If you are trying to compensate a client or recover an irate client, your recovery process should be smooth & efficient making it easy to do business with your company. Further inconvenience will not aid in your recovery efforts.
As I close this blog today, I encourage business establishments to take a look at their recovery process. A complaining customer is a gift. They are identifying ways you have let them and perhaps other clients down and allowing you the opportunity to improve. Embrace the feedback and inspect your processes to ensure you are being customer friendly.