Most of us have memorable customer service experiences: good, bad, and ugly. My recent encounter with KLM’s customer service was no different. It was an eye-opening lesson in:
- What really good looks like versus
- What really ugly looks like
For personal and bereavement reasons, my family had to cancel an international flight with KLM, an unfortunate situation, but necessary nonetheless. At the time of cancellation, KLM reassured us that our flight credits would be secure—they would gladly reissue new tickets under bereavement/compassionate grounds (KLM’s rules of reticketing/rebooking would NOT apply).
When time for booking new flights arrived, we were rudely awakened to the beast that is the airline industry. We quickly learned that given the opportunity, KLM will take your home, your children, and your shoes!
What really ugly looks like
While struggling to rebook our tickets, we were ping-ponged between multiple customer service agents who brazenly showed us what ugly service really looks like. I quote:
- Mam, I need the details of the funeral home where your father was laid to rest; a death certificate is not sufficient (WHAT!!!)
- The rules of the airline do not make allowances for bereavement cancellations (but KLM told me these rules wouldn’t apply to my situation!)
- It’s impossible to reissue your tickets based on your previous fare class (I obviously fly economy)
- To reissue your tickets, you’ll have to pay an equal or higher fare (note: KLM was currently having a seat sale—tickets for our flight routes were $1000 cheaper [each] than what we previously paid)
Thievery at its finest
After this barrage of ugly service, we insisted on speaking to a supervisor, who believe it or not, was even more unaccommodating:
- Sorry Mam, the rules of the airline prohibit us from reissuing tickets at the current market rate. If you pay an additional $100 per ticket, we’ll gladly reissue new ones. Would you like to proceed? (highway robbery; do you want my kidneys as well?)
Interestingly, stress expert Dr David Lewis has equated the anxiety levels of travelers with those of fighter pilots and riot police! Who knew my travelling woes were preparing me for a career as a fighter pilot?!
I digress … What was extremely frustrating was that these agents were robotic—they were simply repeating bureaucracy. Where was the human connection? What happened to compassion and understanding? What about valuing customers and finding solutions?
We obviously refused to accept this injustice. It just didn’t seem right! We weren’t going to eat garbage just because we were at the mercy of KLM. Justice and truth had to be on our side.
What really good looks like
After 1.5 hours of frustration, we insisted on speaking to yet another agent.
Thankfully, God answers prayers (hallelujah!). We were connected to a wonderful agent who redeemed the folly of his colleagues and showed us what really good service looks like:
- I’m happy to help you; just give me the details of your proposed itinerary (uh, okay)
- Please hold on while I process your request (is this seriously happening?)
- Okay, your tickets have been successfully booked. I’ve also processed vouchers for the balance that is owed to you (what, you’re also giving us back our money???)
- Can I help you with anything else? (God bless you!)
WOW! I was floored!
This one agent solved our problems in a quarter of the time it took multiple agents to give us the run around! Our tickets were booked AND we were issued vouchers! We thanked him profusely for his service and immediately asked to speak to his supervisor to give him a much-deserved recommendation!
So what are my takeaways from this ordeal?
- Don’t believe the lies: just because someone tells you it’s impossible doesn’t make it truth
- Don’t submit to the ignorance of others
- Don’t be a victim: know your rights and fight for them
- Stand up for truth and justice
- Angels do exist
- God is a mighty fortress watching over us
- What NOT To Do When Faced With A Customer Service Issue (customerthink.com)
- Woman Dies After Three Airlines Say She’s Too Fat to Fly (jezebel.com)
Copyright © 2012 Uwana.