People, People

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Sometimes things do work out well.  For me, a long-planned vacation is going to happen thanks to someone at Delta Air Lines. For you, this will be the last post on my airline miles!

The business lessons we can take away from the Missing Miles incident won’t go away and the fundamental one is something I’ve written about over and over: don’t confuse the technology with the business. In the case of Delta, their smart business skills overcame their not so smart use of technology. NOTE: If you missed parts one and two of the saga, you can  get caught up by clicking the links.

I finally spoke to a person at Delta.  Jeff McDonald is a customer support person and listened to my story.  He put me on hold, came back on a few minutes later, and voila – miles restored.  While he was kind enough to extend the expiration for several months, I had redeemed the miles and booked our flights within 30 minutes.  Crisis solved, my opinion of Delta upgraded (hopefully yours is as well), and some lessons to be learned.

First – this is a great example of technology hurting the business.  The human face of Delta – Jeff – could empathize – something machines can’t be programmed to do.  My dealings with Delta’s online “live” agent proved that.  It’s why automated customer service functions should be limited to letting a customer know (IMMEDIATELY, by the way), that you’ve received their inquiry and a human will be back to them shortly.

Second – don’t compartmentalize anyone who has interaction with the public.  I spoke to several other people in SkyMiles support who let me know that they had no authority to fix this nor any knowledge of how to do so even if they had authority.  Suggesting that someone mail a letter to resolve a time-based problem in 2009 just doesn’t cut it.  Those people are dealing with customers to solve problems – give them the tools they need to do so!

Third – if you’re using email, Twitter, or anything else, use it as a tool and don’t let it become a detriment.  Delta’s Twitter account hasn’t been updated since May 15, 2007.  That’s not a typo.  Either use it or take it down – the fact that no one is monitoring it must infuriate people, as it did me, when there is silence.  These tools are about conversation.  I did receive an email from Delta last night – 50+ hours after my initial note to them.  To Delta’s credit, it was written by a human, had all the right information, and was personally signed.  But why did it take over 2 days for Delta to acknowledge that I had contacted them?  Again, the technology got in the way of the business.

Our businesses are about people, people.  The technology is a tool that can help us interact or it can cause problems.  My job is to help you do the former as well as to remind you that hiring great guys like Jeff McDonald will move your business ahead further and faster than any technology.

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1 Comment

Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

One response to “People, People

  1. Keith, I’m glad your situation was resolved. As I said in my previous comment, airlines in general have lost the sensitivity to customer needs (if they ever had it). Their rules and contracts of carriage are very tilted towards protecting them and penalizing passengers. The sense that they value you as a customer is seldom there.

    Yours is one of relatively few cases where a passenger gets to speak with a qualified person who is empowered to make decisions and carry them out.

    Regards,

    Enrique (kctravelagency.wordpress.com)

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