By: Anaïsa Kalita | @anaisakalita
Companies everywhere (hopefully) pride themselves on their ability to keep their customers happy and solve any problems in a timely manner. But, what happens to timeliness when your company spans across several timezones worldwide?
I, personally, am a large advocate for word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing and understand the importance of electronic WOM in today’s internet environment. Since I have worked in the customer service industry for most of my life I tend to voice my complaints with a company over social media.
Most of my experiences in dealing with virtual customer service have been pleasant, run-of-the-mill “the customer is always right” situations. However, in June 2016 I experienced the most frustrating customer service in my life – it was somehow more frustrating than the time I dealt with Verizon Wireless’ representative who told me to take my phone case off to see if I could get service because the “metal band around your phone is the antenna”.
In the spring of 2016, I studied abroad in southern France for a semester and by June I had taken 15 international and domestic flights with no problem. However, on my last domestic flight with Air France from Cleremont-Ferrand, France to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France my luggage had reportedly been lost. There had been a massive storm that came through and somehow my suitcases had been sent to a completely different terminal in the largest airport in the country, regardless of the fact the flight was domestic and everyone else’s luggage came through just fine.
Not really knowing what to do, and being an angry, tired traveler stuck in the airport while waiting for the storm to pass so the employees could search for my luggage, I took to Twitter.
Now, looking back, I was admittedly the worst kind of customer to have to deal with however, I had been sitting in the airport for hours hoping to find my bag with no help from any Air France employees.
It took Air France five hours to respond to me and still had no new information or solutions for me.
The next morning, we went to the airport extra early so that we could track down my bag while trying to prepare for two separate flights only to find out that, without notifying me or my mom, Air France had just stuck my bag on my mom’s flight. Upon telling their customer service this information, they again offered no apology or solutions and merely repeated the same thing they had told me earlier.
In the age of social media, it’s important to listen to a customer’s complaint and tailor your response to fit their needs instead of just using a cookie-cutter response and offering no sympathy for the person in distress, especially in high-stress situations like traveling. It’s also extremely important to have staff on hand to respond to a customer’s complaint in a timely manner so that they don’t dwell on the situation and create a larger problem for your brand.