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What Do You Do When Mistakes Happen?

In the US most firms believe they are really awesome at customer service but, no matter how good you are, problems occur.  Mistakes happen. I find most firms do not realize the danger of losing customers from mistakes and my recent experience reinforces that claim.

I flew to JFK in New York on a Sunday via Delta Airlines and then was connecting on Air France to Paris and finally Kiev I arrived about 10:30 AM Sunday May 28. Delta Airlines in Minneapolis was unable to issue me a boarding pass on their SkyTeam Partner, Air France.  They said to get one in New York. Little did I know Air France does not open their ticket counter until 1 PM for a 4:20 PM flight.  

I tried to get a boarding pass on Air France kiosks over 7 times with no success. This meant I was forced to sit on a plastic chair for 2 1/2 hours because the hours of operation for Air France in one of the biggest airports in the US has “open hours” convenient to the airline. I could not go through security without a boarding pass. A huge business if customer driven would have “open hours” convenient to the customer. I have a $5000 business class ticket. To me this is a ton of money.

Before takeoff the flight attendant yanked my charging cord out of the connection on my seat. Said it was for security reasons. Crazy. This has never happened before. If a customer was spending $5000 with you and were going to be with you for over 8 hours would you use their name? How often? If you were at an expensive restaurant spending $5000 on just yourself how would you expect to be treated? The only difference between coach and business class is the seat and food. Service is the same. Poor. Price is 5 times higher.

I arrived in Paris around 6 am. I am super tired. The boarding time is 9:15 am for a scheduled departure at 9:50 AM.  Air France employees do not start boarding until 9:40 AM. No speed. Most employees think and act slow. Air France missed their slot for departures so the plane left an hour late.  To add to this saga of flight with Delta/Air France, only 1 one my 3 pieces of luggage made the flight to Kiev. Air France apparently needs more than 4 hours to get all the luggage on connecting flights.

I had no suitcase in Kiev. I had to cancel a video shoot for Tuesday. I was with clients only in my jeans and tennis shoes. No apology from Air France. NO Service Recovery.

I filed a claim for the $50 I paid for a shirt. Today they said they would get back to me in 2-4 weeks. Wow. When I talked to Air France they did give me 15,000 miles after I asked. That costs them about $15.00.

The Customer Experience should focus on making it easy to do business with you. Amazon is the best in the world with this. In 2017 they increased sales $41.9 billion. It appears too much growth for other firms to want to copy.

Most airlines have a monopoly.  Competition is not very strong. Most firms do not have this luxury and must keep customers to grow. Amazon has thousands of competitors so they focus on great service all the time.

I ordered a $25 hair product from Amazon but it was not what I wanted. I ordered another item but when I went to my Amazon account I could not find the original order for the return. I called Amazon. They answer with live awesome people in about 15 seconds. They said I had to wait until I had received the replacement product and they would then call me to handle the return. I received a call Saturday morning and the employee apologized for not calling me on Friday. She then suggested I keep the product and they just give me a credit. Would your company do that?

Lessons to Be Learned:

  1. I think we learn a lot from mistakes and awesome customer service.
  2. There’s a reason Amazon had a $41.9 billion sales increase in one year.
  3. Master Service Recovery. Do not wait for the customer to complain.
  4. Focus on operational excellence.
  5. Make is super easy for customers to do business with you 24/7
  6. Think speed. Amazon is the best in the world. Air France has no grasp of speed.
  7. Love the customer. Treat them like a King or Queen

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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