My omni-channel customer service travel experience
October 13, 2017
I’m currently on the road, gone for most of the month of October. And truth be told, I’m actually CURRENTLY delayed and stuck in Nashville. I’m heading to Sydney, and with the fires around San Francisco, there is a bit of uncertainty about making it in time before my class tarts Monday morning.
But, let’s go back to my story.
All the travel from my month was booked online, no surprise there. It was the experience I expected, and included a couple of hours to find a good seat to go from Sydney to Munich.
Since I left home, some of the plans have changed and I have had to edit/cancel the reservations; and interact with representatives of the providers.
I needed to cancel an itinerary with Iceland Air (Amsterdam to Reykjavík to Denver). I was able to determine that the fare I had booked would be somewhat refundable, but might have had some penalties/fees. I was not able to cancel automatically from the site, I had a choice to call in or use Facebook Messenger. I went the Facebook Messenger route. I’ve pasted the entire conversation below. It took just over one hour from start to finish.
I also wound up needing to cancel my Sydney to Munich (Sydney to Jakarta to Singapore to Munich). That I booked via Expedia on Garuda Indonesia Air. I was not able to locate my itinerary via the airline direct; but I was able to find that my booked fare class was cancellable, but with unknown penalties. Same exercise with Expedia, reservation easily found, but zero info about the fare class, cancel options, or really anything beyond this is your reservation. No cancel options online, you must call customer service. In their favor, the call was fairly quick, the flights cancelled easily after a quick confirmation of penalties. The ticket was cancelled and all refunded except for a penalty of around $98.
Most of this month-long journey I’m staying at Marriot properties. They have a mobile app that I’ve used before for check-ins. But once checked in you can still use the app for great things. I will find out in Sydney if it’s a different experience based on location, assuming I get to Sydney. In the app you have options for things like more towels or toiletries and wake-up calls. There’s also a chat option. I used that a ton in Nashville at the Gaylord/Opryland hotel. It was awesome. Here’s a sample of the interactions.
And now my current experience; trying to fly Nashville to San Francisco to Sydney. My original itinerary had me out of Nashville around 5pm, and arriving in San Francisco with a two-hour connection. I got the message below yesterday, more than 24 hours before my scheduled flight (I got it both in text and email).
That’s good service and prompted me to change to an earlier flight from Nashville to San Francisco, hoping some padding in the day would help.
The delays started right after I arrived at the airport. The delays are not United’s fault, I get it. But it is their job to keep me informed. That is not happening.
I have not received a single text or email regarding the flight.
When I log in to the site, this is what I see:
Notice the arrows. On the right is a message telling me that I’m delayed; and that I’m booked on my flight and the next one as a buffer. Sounds like good service. Notice that I’m hovering over the “View updated reservation details”. In the bottom left, you can see it will direct me back to the United home page. I am now a delayed and confused (loyal) customer. Now we have bad service. So now I have to call to find out when I’m going where. Agent at the premier desk swears I’m not double-booked. We chat and decide the best path is to stay on the itinerary I have, there are not many options for getting to Sydney this is my best bet.
Now here at the airport, the gate agent brings out a snack cart for those of us waiting for the delayed flight. Super good service. The delay is not United’s fault, but they are doing what they can to make it a bit more palatable. I tweet about it. United replies.
Did they just ask for my flight number? Not that it’s a secret, but don’t they have that already? My reply is a let-me-google-that-for-you link. Sure enough, it comes right up with my delayed flight.
And ironically, I just got a flight delay notice for the later flight to San Francisco. The one I’m not on.