The Importance of Integrating the Customer Experience across the Journey


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Airlines are the poster child for how NOT to create customer loyalty. My recent experience with British Airways shows just how much work this industry has to do. Here’s a recap of the points of failure in addressing customer experience issues. I share this not as a bash on BA (even though it is deserved), but as an illustration for what companies need to do integrate their customer experience across the journey.

1. Global integration. I’m an American living in London. As such I travel back and forth across the pond quite often. When I called the executive club call centre here in the UK, I was told they can’t help me because my account was set up in the US. Therefore, every time I need assistance with my account, I need to contact them during US working hours (not convenient for a UK resident), and incur additional phone costs. Given that I have often sat on hold for 30 minutes to speak with a human (another issue entirely), this can be costly. Why can’t they integrate their systems and enable customers to contact you in the location/time zone best for them?

In contrast, when I call American Airlines Executive desk, they answer my phone call immediately, serve me whether I call the US or UK center and have even integrated their data so that if I call from the right mobile phone the agent will even know who I am and my account number! “How can I help you Deb Eastman?” – Now that’s service!

2. Channel integration. Business travelers often use 3rd party travel agents to book travel – why? Because we need air, ground and hotel. BA is so unfriendly to the travel agent model they impact their customer experience. If a travel agent books the ticket, you can’t choose to upgrade after the fact, not because of availability, because you booked through an agent – HUH? So, as a frequent flyer you either have to deal with BA directly, or you have to work with the agent to request the upgrades before the ticketing process. Don’t get the sequence wrong or you will be stuck in coach on an 11-hour trip across the pond.

Again, in contrast, I can call American Airlines any time when booked in any channel and request upgrades. I can even do it on the website, reducing their costs, and making it more convenient.

3. Bad profits. You have to pay for seat selection? Really, what does that cost you when I’m selecting my seat over the web? That is the worst possible offense of bad profits, especially for a frequent traveler. Ironically, if I use my AA executive platinum number instead of BA at booking, I don’t have to pay and have free reign of the seating plan. So you prefer I fly as an AA member then a BA member? How does that build loyalty?

4. Social media marketing vs. social experience. While BA has set up their twitter channel and seem to monitor twitter feeds, they haven’t integrated this into a closed-loop process. No disrespect to the folks monitoring this channel – they seem to try – but tweeters hope for resolution, not apologies. Take a lesson from Virgin Media and integrate this into your customer complaints/service department and get it out of marketing.

There is so much more that could be said here, but I’m exhausted thinking about how much work BA has ahead of them. It’s no wonder their employees are constantly considering strikes. If you are working for a company that doesn’t care about customers, you typically find a company that doesn’t care about employees, either. I suspect the finance and marketing departments are in charge.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Deborah Eastman
Deborah has spent her career with a passion for customer success. As the Chief Customer Officer at Satmetrix her responsibilities include thought leadership development, consulting, certification training, and continuous improvement of the Satmetrix experience. She is a frequent speaker and blogger on Net Promoter and Customer Experience.


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