Can airline customer service rise to new heights?

delta5The experience of passengers like Nina Boal makes me optimistic about the future of air travel.

An information technology specialist for a government agency in Baltimore, Boal ran into trouble recently when she flew to her mother’s funeral in Chicago. Her fibromyalgia and severe arthritis made it difficult to board the aircraft.

Delta Air Lines staff bent over backward to make the flight as comfortable as possible, she says. It switched her seats to accommodate her mobility challenges, and its agents helped lift her into the seat. They even apologized for the difficulties, even though “there was nothing for them to apologize about,” she says. “Because of their assistance, I was able to get to my mother’s funeral.
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Delta’s Ausband: “Customer service is very important to the bottom line”

Allison Ausband/Delta

Here’s part two of my interview with Allison Ausband, Delta Air Lines’ vice president for reservations sales and customer care. You can read part one here.

Whatever happened to First Point of Contact? Does it still exist?

Absolutely. We’ve told our people either to fix it, or find someone who can, which is what First Point of Contact was all about. So, if you can’t solve a problem, raise your hand and talk to a leader.

We just started a program with our customer support supervisors in reservations. If they get to an impasse with a customer, they offer to end the call and then call or email the customer back after a short break. It gives the supervisor the chance to review the situation and consider some options that perhaps they hadn’t considered.
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Would you wear one of these wristbands?

Smile! These wristbands at the Clinique counter at Macy’s promise that an associate will be able to “read your mind” — green for “I have time,” pink for “I’m just looking” and white for “I’m in a hurry.”

Would you wear a wristband if it could lead to better service? I asked the woman at the counter if customers were using the “smile” wristbands.
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Looks like United may not be a lost cause after all

Looks like United may not be a lost cause after all

United is ready for takeoff? / Photo by John Rogers – Flickr Creative Commons
For the better part of the last year, I’ve thought United Airlines was a lost cause. The Continental Airlines merger couldn’t have gone worse, from a customer service perspective, and as much as I liked many of the people now working at the new United, it was difficult to say anything nice about the airline — let alone write anything positive.
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