19 May

Are my customer service expectations too high?

20110519-091817.jpgWhile I don’t travel a tremendous amount, I travel enough that I’m a fairly savvy traveler but not nearly as much as my husband who I’m pretty sure has earned million mile+ status on American.

Stuck in Chicago O’Hare for a 3+ hour layover, I remembered that hubby has an Admiral’s Club membership so I decided to make my way over to enjoy more comfortable digs.

Of course I had no idea of his membership number, but since the lobby was empty I was glad to receive the help in locating account information. The lady helping me was pleasant. Then the travelers started trickling in. There were two attendants at the desk. The lady helping me began to get noticeably frustrated as she couldn’t locate my info and the line was growing.

It’s awkward being in that situation. You feel a little uncomfortable causing the line to form. It makes you feel like you don’t belong there even though you might.

A good customer service representative will prevent these feelings of discomfort from happening, not make you feel more uneasy.

I wasn’t sure if I was on the account (turns out I’m not) but I thought I had every right to find out before either paying for a day pass or adding my name to the account. I had no way of knowing that it would be a time-consuming challenge to retrieve my information.

But the woman started sighing and rolling her eyes. She was visibly annoyed that I was asking her to get this information. Before locating it, she suggested I just buy a $50 day pass. The line was growing…

I felt like everyone in line was looking at me, wondering why I was holding them up!

Finally, she located my info and as I mentioned I’m not on the account. That’s fine, I’m ok with that. I didn’t want to add myself (for an extra $325) without talking to hubby and I was so annoyed by the situation that I didn’t really want to pay the $50. So I didn’t. I felt like I left, walking past the enormous line with my tail between my legs.

What did I expect? I guess I expect not to feel uncomfortable in a customer service transaction. There are plenty of things she could have done to prevent me from feeling this way. Not huffing, puffing and rolling her eyes at me or commenting on how large the line is getting is the first thing that comes to mind.

While I didn’t expect to waltz in there because my husband has so many miles with American or because he is a paying member, I didn’t expect to feel like my inquiry was causing an inconvenience.

I think this woman should look at her job a little closer… It’s to make people feel valued, not like a the police trying to prevent people from trying to sneak into some posh club!


6 thoughts on “Are my customer service expectations too high?

  1. Great post Renee! You’re so right in expecting good service from a Club your husband frequents. There are so many ways this agent could have made you feel welcome and comfortable while she looked up the information for you. Rather, she put you in the awkward position of feeling you were holding up the line. Wasn’t she the one holding up the line, taking so long to locate some simple information? Customer service rule #1 “don’t blame the customer”! Take the responsibility for your inadequate system, or whatever is causing the customer discomfort. Because of course, “The customer is ALWAYS right.” They blew it and once they saw your husband had a membership, they should have let you enjoy the benefits for the day gratis for taking so long to help you! Hope you experience better service the next time you travel.

  2. No. Absolutely not. Your expectations were not too high — especially at the “admirals club”. After all they ARE promoting it as an elite, special circle. Neither your missing number nor the long line should detract from the service given. The problem I see here is that the rep relegated you to a number. Really? What if she DID find your number and you were a top customer? She could not unroll her eyes or undo her mutterings. If that rep had delivered on customer service she may have won yet another customer. Tsk tsk tsk I say.

  3. Renee I am with Libby after all that rigamarole-like my word 😉 the courtesy to extend you a day pass would have earned them valuable “Customer Service” currency, never mind better conversations about their brand online-like right now.

    Better question is how many times have we dropped the ball in our own customer service opportunities? AND how can we help our clients prevent this type of disengagement with their current clients?

  4. Nice post. Service like this pisses me off as well.
    1) They should have given you a day pass. Would make you AND husband feel good about American = good marketing!
    2) Write a short note to American CMO about how uncomfortable the uncaring attendant made you feel. Especially since your husband is a member and flys so many miles. Ask to be added onto your husbands account for gratis or at least some day passes.

    • Thanks for your comment! Good suggestion- the main goal I had with writing this was to use my voice as a customer to reach out to American Airlines and remind them of the importance of good customer service. A little effort being nice and genuinely helpful, goes a long way!

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