Customer Channel Dis-Integration

Share on LinkedIn1Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Facebook0

George Clooney in Up in the Air | Trailer & Official Movie SiteConsider the experience my partner Rajesh and I had in the Delhi airport yesterday with one of the newer, progressive airlines as an example why integration across customer touch points is critical to everything from revenue generation to long term customer retention.

  1. We entered the front door of the terminal with only a printed itinerary in hand.  “Checked” by security guard, we were let in.
  2. At the ticket counter, we were shown that our itinerary was for Dec 18, not Dec 16 (oops Rajesh!).  Unfortunately, the “ticket” counter couldn’t make a change to our reservation.  To do that, we would have to exit the terminal and go into a separate ticket office adjacent to the terminal.
  3. At the ticket window, we were told that yes, there were seats available, but unfortunately, since we booked online, she could not help us.  Instead, we needed to call the online booking call center.
  4. As Rajesh called, about 6 people got in line ahead of us.  On the phone, the agent told us that the 8:20 pm flight was unavailable but that we could get on the 9:20 pm flight.  Fine.
  5. Back through security (with the right flight date – kudos to the first security guy – NOT) and to the “ticket” counter where we were told that the original flight was still available (“who told you it wasn’t?”) but that, of course, she couldn’t fix it.  So, exasperated at this point, we just took the boarding passes for the later flight.
  6. Finally, with 2 hours to kill, Rajesh asked for passes to the lounge which he and a guest are entitled to as a premium club member.  “Sorry,” she said “but you are on the later flight which is our budget service and we don’t offer club passes with that class of ticket.”  Quickly, Rajesh countered that we wanted the earlier flight and that we were willing to pay for it but they couldn’t get their stuff straight.  Passes issued.

Good grief – we think we have it bad in the US.  A horrible experience all around – as a customer and for the airline. One view on improving this is to look at the capabilities available in each customer touch-point.  Something like this:

Airport Counter Ticket Counter Web/Phone
Purchase Ticket

no

yes

yes

Print Itinerary

no

yes

yes

Change Reservation

no

only if purchased from Ticket Counter

yes

Print Boarding Pass

yes

only if purchased from Ticket Counter

no

At a glance, it looks like the Web channel is pretty capable but that the rest of the business needs to catch up. What do you think?

Share on LinkedIn1Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Facebook0
  • Nick Braude

    We may think we have it bad in the U.S., but we’ve come a long way in 20 years. These guys can certainly sympathize with your travails: http://tinyurl.com/ya8lxr7

  • Nick Braude

    We may think we have it bad in the U.S., but we’ve come a long way in 20 years. These guys can certainly sympathize with your travails: http://tinyurl.com/ya8lxr7

  • Amit Nangalia

    This reminds me of a time when I had to make changes to an airline reservation for a ticket booked via priceline. The airline was incapable of making any changes whatsoever, and I had to go through Priceline to make the change. I think US airlines also have some room to integrate their customer experience within the web channel itself.

  • Amit Nangalia

    This reminds me of a time when I had to make changes to an airline reservation for a ticket booked via priceline. The airline was incapable of making any changes whatsoever, and I had to go through Priceline to make the change. I think US airlines also have some room to integrate their customer experience within the web channel itself.

  • Great article!

    The fact that as a customer you could pin-point the airline’s bottlenecks (which goes to show how obvious they were) yet the airline itself is oblivious of them, shows they aren’t customer centric but only revenue centric. What they don’t know I guess, is that the latter is heavily dependent on the former… so they are losing a lot of potential revenue by not taking care of the leaks in the processes.

  • Great article!

    The fact that as a customer you could pin-point the airline’s bottlenecks (which goes to show how obvious they were) yet the airline itself is oblivious of them, shows they aren’t customer centric but only revenue centric. What they don’t know I guess, is that the latter is heavily dependent on the former… so they are losing a lot of potential revenue by not taking care of the leaks in the processes.

  • My wife and I had a similar experience at Delhi airport about 2 years ago. In addition to the ticket fiasco, there was the famous Delhi fog which grounded flights. My wife and I were stuck in the airport wo food and water for 4 hours. Then once we boarded the plane, stuck on the plane again wo food or water for 6 hours. I have never been in such an ordeal nor seen such agitated passengers. There are such obvious bottlenecks. Is it that hard for them to fix it? I will never fly from Delhi, train service is the way to go.

  • My wife and I had a similar experience at Delhi airport about 2 years ago. In addition to the ticket fiasco, there was the famous Delhi fog which grounded flights. My wife and I were stuck in the airport wo food and water for 4 hours. Then once we boarded the plane, stuck on the plane again wo food or water for 6 hours. I have never been in such an ordeal nor seen such agitated passengers. There are such obvious bottlenecks. Is it that hard for them to fix it? I will never fly from Delhi, train service is the way to go.

  • Narc

    With all the integration in the world, India will always be India.
    Complexity is a state of mind over there !

  • Narc

    With all the integration in the world, India will always be India.
    Complexity is a state of mind over there !

  • Toby Redshaw

    Hmmm not sure I like the typical Yank* generalization that this experience indicates that ‘we don’t have it so bad in the US’ implying at least India and maybe everything outside of the US is underdeveloped and lagging in some way. I have had similar experiences with United at O’hare and heaven forbid there’s snow in the area…
    On a more business related point we are seeing more and more indpendent progress in e-channels that makes a firm’s non e-channels look even worse…

    * see a sweeping logical step branding a large group does feel wrong 😉

  • Toby Redshaw

    Hmmm not sure I like the typical Yank* generalization that this experience indicates that ‘we don’t have it so bad in the US’ implying at least India and maybe everything outside of the US is underdeveloped and lagging in some way. I have had similar experiences with United at O’hare and heaven forbid there’s snow in the area…
    On a more business related point we are seeing more and more indpendent progress in e-channels that makes a firm’s non e-channels look even worse…

    * see a sweeping logical step branding a large group does feel wrong 😉

  • Pingback: Who Owns the Online Customer Channel? — CIO Dashboard()