American Airlines is Another Poster Child for Poor Customer Service

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Wait until you read this story. Here’s another example of how small businesses have it all over mammoth corporations when it comes to customer service. American Airlines grounded 900 planes today because of possible wiring problems. They’ve known about this for a while, but were finally forced to check all of their MD-80’s

I was booked to fly on American today to attend a business conference and luckily found out my flight was cancelled before I left home, but only because I saw the story on the news last night and checked. I received an e-mail notification when I booked my flight but no e-mail when it was cancelled. The mentality behind this is that we need to do all we can to get your business, but once you’ve paid us, we do the minimum.

When I tried to call to re-book my flight last night I couldn’t get through. This morning at 6:55 AM I called and went through an annoying voice response sequence that would make a saint punch a hole in the wall. Finally I was connected to the queue to wait for the next available agent. The expected wait was-are you ready—63 minutes.

I drove my daughter and friends to school, leaving the phone off the hook and connected. I figured, what the heck, I’ll probably still be on hold when I get back. And I was. I ate breakfast, did a few chores and finally at around 8:25 AM a live agent came on the line.

It took us about 30 more minutes to find a flight tomorrow on another airline that would get me to my destination a day late. When I asked that my return flight also be re-booked with another airline I was told that they were unable to do that-just in case American is flying in a few days when I am scheduled to return. In other words, if there not flying and I get cancelled, I’ll have to go through the same telephone nightmare again. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

American knew about the problem, did little, inconvenienced thousands and thousands of people, and put them though the wringer just to re-book. As of this morning the website had no updates or instructions and in the age of technology the only way to re-book was to wait for 90 minutes on the phone.

It seems utterly ludicrous, but they are not the only ones. Other large airlines and phone companies put consumers through the same frustrating; stressful experience and they don’t seem to care.

You have a big advantage. You can provide stellar customer service to your small business clients. You can get feedback and care about changing what’s not working. Don’t these big companies know that with social online networks, marketing is more and more consumer driven? We have more power, and so do you r customers.

So learn from the big guys what not to do.

What do you think?

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