13 March 2013

Turning customer service ‘moments of truth’ into PR disasters

In a previous article, I talked about the need for flexibility and humanity in customer service over adherence to corporate process. The example came from JetStar’s headline news appearance in New Zealand over its treatment of the grieving mother of a shark attack victim.

Less than two weeks later and the UK’s Virgin Atlantic and their security contractor G4S provide another case study of how not to deliver front line customer service.

In this incident, gate staff refused to allow Petty Officer Nicky Howse - a serving engineer in the British Royal Navy returning to duty from a family funeral - to wear her uniform on a flight, despite this explicitly being allowed by Virgin’s company policies.

The story highlights the stark reality of how the actions of individual employees at the front line can rapidly turn a company’s reputation into a very public bad news story.

1 March 2013

Why business process must never replace humanity in a contact centre


On February 27th 2013 in New Zealand, a man died in a shark attack on a beach near AucklandThis tragic story hit the press again just two days later as low cost airline JetStar refused to allow the victim’s mother to change a ticket and fly from Wellington to Auckland a week earlier to be with her family, without paying a $350 change fee.

The New Zealand Herald reported a Jetstar spokesman as saying “Jetstar appreciates this would have been a stressful situation and regrets if the service received by her relative from our call centre caused further distress.”

IF the service received caused further distress?  IF?

This chain of events raises serious lessons for any contact centre manager, going right to the heart of basic principles in customer service.