A bad case of the La La Las

I previously wrote about a problem I’d had with an airline, and how the airline didn’t want to speak to its customers.  They did this by making it easier to give up than finally speak to someone with any knowledge.

Something I didn’t mention then was that the ‘Contact Us’ section on the page was an excellent example of how not to give people direct access to help, but instead put almost infinite blockers in the way of people needing assistance.  Yet there was a relatively prominent, direct link to a form where you could send praise!  Two thoughts came to mind when I saw this.

  1. I remembered previously using this praise link for a particularly helpful member of cabin crew.  I’d sent off the form and then…nothing.  No acknowledgement they even received it, let alone a reply that showed they were pleased to have got it right and that I’d taken the time to tell them.  I won’t be bothering again, that’s for sure.
  2. Most importantly, it shows that the airline only wants to hear what sounds nice.  Everyone likes praise and it’s nice to be able to give it where it’s due.  But all this backslapping doesn’t add anything.  It’s the complaints you need to hear the loudest – these are people who are so unhappy that they made a clear effort to tell you what they think – and if you can resolve these, you’ll probably be in line for even higher praise than if you’d just done things right to start with.  But by sticking their fingers in your ears and singing “la la la I can’t hear you”, the airline is silencing one of the most valuable streams of customer insight available.

Customer insight tools like Teneo Insight give you the ability to see this rich seam of data, to spot trends and even predict issues before they happen.  Whether you can prevent the issue happening or will have to deal with it when it hits is almost immaterial.  People remember how you treated them, and lack of information drives people crazy!  The airline’s ‘selective deafness’ in this regard simply shows that they don’t care how they treat people, whatever their strapline says.  And that isn’t acceptable to customers any more.

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