The Death Of Customer Service!

Feb. 25, 2014
Airlines aside, aviation does have a brightly-shining segment in which customer service lives on

Customer service is deader than a doornail (as we used to say in South Georgia). It’s dead and the airlines definitely participated in the murder.

Case in point:

I have a coupon good for $425 on a particular airline. It wasn’t a gift. I earned it by taking a bump on a crowded flight on a bad day last year. Recently I decided to use the coupon, which advised me in writing to call a certain telephone number. I did. Four times. I never got through to a person. I tried to use the coupon online, but that wouldn’t work either. Somehow, sometime, between now and the coupon’s expiration in May, I’ve got to get a person on the phone. Pray for me.

In one recent news report, I learned that some airlines or group of airlines want the guvmint to help them with new laws or regulations pertaining to “unruly” passengers. Hey, when airlines want the law to protect them from their own pax, things are getting pretty bad. I gotta wonder why those passengers—let’s call them customers—are getting so mad and unruly. As a pax myself, I have a few ideas about that. (BTW, I just read that customer complaints actually dropped in December.)

Online recently, one airline pilot stated, “Passengers don’t deserve low fares.” Hey, are they in business or at war? Many airline employees are actually mad at customers for buying tickets as cheaply as they can.

Aviation, of course, is not the only industry with surly customers. Have you ever tried to handle anything on the phone with Verizon Wireless? Pitiful. And they are in the telephone business! I remember when the phone company used to put on free seminars about serving customers on the phone.

In the meantime, aviation does, in my not-so-humble opinion, have a brightly-shining segment in which customer service lives on. Congratulations and kudos go to our airports. I actually like airports (I’m talking about airports, now, not necessarily TSA).

I can eat, work, avail myself of the restrooms, read and use my computer with absolutely free Wi-Fi, except at the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta, where they charge for Wi-Fi. BTW, I just called Atlanta to confirm that. I got a real, live customer service person on the phone so fast—and she was so friendly—that I may call again later just for the fun of it.

I’m not saying that I visit airports just for the pleasure of it, but if I get through with my business four hours before my return flight departs, I’ll usually leave my hotel and go on out to the airport. Once at the airport I’m in my comfort zone, and I’m not likely to miss my flight.

In every bad situation some folks will profit, and this is no different. Customer service is so non-existent at present that any person or company that tries to be friendly, helpful and attentive will look like a diamond in a slop jar. I’ve never seen a time when a little bit of niceness would yield such high rewards in appreciation.

About the Author

Ralph Hood | Certified Speaking Professional

Ralph Hood is a Certified Speaking Professional who has addressed aviation groups throughout North America. A pilot since 1969, he's insured and sold airplanes at retail and distributor levels and taught aviation management for Southern Illinois University.

Ralph Hood is also an award-winning columnist (he writes for several publications), a salesman and sales manager (he sold airplanes, for crying out loud!), a teacher (he taught college-level aviation management) and a professional public speaker who has entertained and enlightened audiences from Hawaii to Spain, and from Fairbanks to Puerto Rico.

  • Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), National Speakers Association
  • Past member, National Ethics Committee, National Speakers Association
  • Past president of Alabama Speakers Association
  • Member, Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame
  • Past National Marketing Mentor, AOPA Project Pilot