In a vibrant economy, Customer Service, can be a key differentiator for two B to C competitors. With a sluggish economy, Customer Service may well determine which competitor survives and which fails. Here’s another example of a real multi-billion dollar struggling company that does not understand the relationshp between customer service and customer wallet share. The author has requested anonymity to protect his current status.
Fly the Friendly Skies
Discrimination is a sociological term referring to the treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group in consideration based solely on class or category. Discrimination is the actual behavior towards another group. It involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups. We are fortunate to live in a country that does not embrace racial, religious, gender, age, creed, sexual, disability or class discrimination. There are no castes in the United States. We are all equal.
Well not quite, for air travelers there are “loyalty” programs that divide us. I’ll focus on United Airlines (UA) as that is my only point of reference.
The loyalty programs are just S&L Green Stamps carried to a different level. You purchase my services and I’ll reward you with theses stamps or in the case of UA Mileage Plus, miles. The miles accumulate and you can trade them in for a reward. The reward with UA is flights, upgrades and even membership to the Red Carpet Club when you use your miles to obtain the reward.
The rewards are to secure loyalty because you flew with them instead of American or Delta.
Here is where the class system raises its ugly head.
Example: You have been flying UA and have saved 200,000 miles. On your next flight 60 days in the future you decide to use 40,000 miles to upgrade from economy to first class (FC). You receive your confirmation and a computer generated boarding pass on a wide body airbus seat 2A. You can almost taste the wine and feel the warmth spacious FC seat.
In 60 days you arrive at the airport, even dressed up a bit because you are in FC today.
Little did you know that Lois, the international computer chip VP of sales, needed to go to LA on short notice. Lois is a million mile UA customer and she likes seat 2A.
You are toast. This happens each and every day. So that loyalty you gladly provided, even through the bankruptcy, is rewarded with a seat in 6A. That’s right; in economy at the bulkhead where the seats are tiny and the cabin wall presses against you for 6 hours.
Lois is happy and you are offered a $100 voucher good for a year and you need a chiropractor at the flights end..
The marketing staff at UA headquarters has no clue what they just did to a core business traveler— who is now looking at American and Delta as a UA replacement.
Lois must be better than me—I am not worthy. Everybody votes in Selma Alabama—refrain please.