Thursday, 11 November 2004

How to lose a customer

I have been in Glasgow since Tuesday, to help a customer solve a problem. Originally, I was supposed to stay until Friday but it looks like we found what was wrong and there is nothing more I can do to help so I will be going back to London tonight. I flew up to Glasgow with British Airways so my first reaction was to change my return flight. Because I am a BA frequent flyer, I can access my bookings online so I did just that and discovered that the ability to change flights online was planned but not implemented yet. My only option was to phone the helpdesk. So, I dialed the number, listened to the recorded message, pressed 1 on my phone to get to the bookings and... waited... while being told about how easy it was to do things from the BA website; that they valued my custom and would answer my call shortly; that they really had cheap prices; that Club World (aka Business class) is cheaper than you think and has real beds; and kept waiting... In the meantime, as I suspected my ticket was not flexible and couldn't be changed and as I had my web browser open, I connected to bmi and checked availability and prices for one-way flights back home. When I eventually got through to a British Airways agent, I was told that, as expected, my ticket was non changeable, non refundable and that I had to book a new one-way flight. I thanked him, checked prices on BA, just to make sure they were not cheaper than bmi, and finished my bmi booking. Lesson learnt: make it difficult or too expensive for your customers to change their minds and they might decide to take their business elsewhere.

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