Customer Service

Glenn Quagmire

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Apr 30, 2012
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https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/southwest-airlines-recovery-surprise-180056467.html

"We hailed a flight attendant, and told her the WiFi was not working. She was pleasant but began explaining basic connection concepts, as she was obviously used to dealing with operator error. After a minute or so, we convinced her that the three of us knew what we were doing and that the WiFi simply wasnt working.
She went to investigate, and after another 5-10 minutes, she returned to tell us that the WiFi could not be repaired in flight and that we would have no WiFi service on this trip. Since we did not have WiFi to receive email, I was not even sure if the $8.00 charge had gone through, so I didnt sweat it much.

The flight attendant was very customer-focused and made sure to offer free drinks to make up for the inconvenience. However, I had a ton of work to do, so I declined.

Service Recovery After the Fact

A few days later, I discovered a charge for $8.00 on my credit card from Southwest Airlines; the charge had gone through! The situation made me think of one of the core concepts we discuss here on the blog and in our workshops about the hassle factor and the idea of customer effort. This situation is a perfect example of how small hassles can affect the customer experience.

After seeing the charge, I added call Southwest for a refund to my To Do list. The charge was so small, however, that it never made it to the top of the list. The situation was mildly annoying, but more important matters always got placed on top of it. So, imagine my surprise when a few days later I received the following email from Southwest Airlines:..."

Great example of a service recovery. Someone is doing it right at Southwest. The entire story is at the link above.
 
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do we even know that WN itself even initiated the refund or was it simply a result of the WiFi system being designed to not charge for a service that is not provided?

There shouldn't be a charge if the system doesn't work but it shouldn't be dependent on a person manually requesting that the charge not be processed.

I'd like to hear from someone at WN who understands their WiFi system and whether they actually can intervene in the charge process or whether it is automated by the system to not process charges.

Even if the system made a charge and then before the end of the flight refunded the charge automatically, credit card refunds usually take far longer to process than the original charge.

doesn't change that WN is a customer focused airline just that I'm not sure this story fully portrays that culture at work.

BTW, in the most recent DOT survey, WN came in as #3 among US airlines behind those two that are duking it out up in SEA.
 
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Oh, WT, who the hell cares whether the system automatically refunded the charge, or it required manual intervention?  The initial story said right off the bat that the "charge appeared on his credit card account."  The IMPORTANT point is that the customer got a refund he had not had time to ask for.  FYI, no airline operates its own onboard Wi-Fi that I know of.  The WI_FI equipment and service are provided by outside vendors.  The airline has no control over whether the service is self-correcting or requires human intervention.  That WN would take the time and spend the money to advise the customer of the refund and why impresses me.
 
One has to wonder...if the airline involved were DL, would you be posting this same question denigrating either the system or the airline for its poor programming?  I think not.  And, why didn't you just go ahead and say that WN ranked behind DL and AS?  You know you were dying to.
 
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Lighten up, Francis.

nobody is denigrating anything.

I said clearly that the system shouldn't charge if the service wasn't delivered.

Do you honestly think that I would say that it is ok for DL to charge for a non-working system but WN shouldn't?

It is highly possible that WN set as one of the requirements to the vendor - who makes the charge in WN's name - that if a charge is made and no data is transmitted or if the data stops after a certain period of time that there is no charge.

It is also possible that WN set up systems to automatically send out a customer email (by the vendor but in WN's name) if the system fails or charges and not delivers.

it isn't rocket science and other companies absolutely have automated service recovery tools.

No one at all denigrated WN because they might have automated a process that should have happened anyway.

I just doubt - and I would be happy to hear a WN FA tell me that they really do or don't have a process to report a malfunctioning WiFi system.

If they don't - and with the number of flights WN operates, if there isn't a specific process in place, then the chances are very high it is automated.

It speaks highly of WN that they developed processes that work, not that it is automated vs. an FA.
 
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jimntx said:
Oh, WT, who the hell cares whether the system automatically refunded the charge, or it required manual intervention?  The initial story said right off the bat that the "charge appeared on his credit card account."  The IMPORTANT point is that the customer got a refund he had not had time to ask for.  FYI, no airline operates its own onboard Wi-Fi that I know of.  The WI_FI equipment and service are provided by outside vendors.  The airline has no control over whether the service is self-correcting or requires human intervention.  That WN would take the time and spend the money to advise the customer of the refund and why impresses me.
 
One has to wonder...if the airline involved were DL, would you be posting this same question denigrating either the system or the airline for its poor programming?  I think not.  And, why didn't you just go ahead and say that WN ranked behind DL and AS?  You know you were dying to.
Of course WT is trying to downplay WN's customer service. I have him on ignore, so I don't get the pleasure of scrolling through multiple 1000 word posts with no content (just bloviating about the awesomeness of DL).
The wifi system was working at one point during the flight - that's how their credit card was charged. It stopped working at some point shortly thereafter, and thats why the refund was issued. Like Herman Cain- I don't have the facts to back this up- but I think it went something like this: pax tells FA that wifi isn't working, FA tells pilot, pilot writes it up in the logbook, item gets placed on MEL, Row 44 (the vendor) notified that wifi system is on MEL and looks into it, and WN issues refunds to all pax who purchased wifi on that flight.
 
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blue collar said:
Of course WT is trying to downplay WN's customer service. I have him on ignore, so I don't get the pleasure of scrolling through multiple 1000 word posts with no content (just bloviating about the awesomeness of DL).
We use unicorns for bag tugs, and cure cancer during our downtime. :lol:

The wifi system was working at one point during the flight - that's how their credit card was charged. It stopped working at some point shortly thereafter, and thats why the refund was issued. Like Herman Cain- I don't have the facts to back this up- but I think it went something like this: pax tells FA that wifi isn't working, FA tells pilot, pilot writes it up in the logbook, item gets placed on MEL, Row 44 (the vendor) notified that wifi system is on MEL and looks into it, and WN issues refunds to all pax who purchased wifi on that flight.
Seems like a pretty viable theory to me!

What would be really fun to find out is how much revenue ultimately comes to WN as a result of getting that 8 bucks back to the guy.
 
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Kev3188 said:
We use unicorns for bag tugs, and cure cancer during our downtime. :lol:


Seems like a pretty viable theory to me!

What would be really fun to find out is how much revenue ultimately comes to WN as a result of getting that 8 bucks back to the guy.
Hahaha!
It sounds like he was already fairly loyal to southwest, and I'm sure this little bit helped solidify that- and yes, one can only wonder how many more customers WN will get based on the good PR from the article.
 
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Of course WT is trying to downplay WN's customer service. I have him on ignore, so I don't get the pleasure of scrolling through multiple 1000 word posts with no content (just bloviating about the awesomeness of DL).
The wifi system was working at one point during the flight - that's how their credit card was charged. It stopped working at some point shortly thereafter, and thats why the refund was issued. Like Herman Cain- I don't have the facts to back this up- but I think it went something like this: pax tells FA that wifi isn't working, FA tells pilot, pilot writes it up in the logbook, item gets placed on MEL, Row 44 (the vendor) notified that wifi system is on MEL and looks into it, and WN issues refunds to all pax who purchased wifi on that flight.
again, I am not at all saying anything condescending about WN or their customer service.

I simply asked if WN has an automated process in place to deal with WiFi system failures.

If it truly was a completely manual process and happened as you said, then it is a truly amazing process of follow thru that involved not just WN but also Row 44.

Of course companies can hold their contractors thru to their standards of customer service but inflight WiFi failures aren't really uncommon at all in the industry.

Again, I have my doubts that the process truly was manual as you noted. But WN doesn't use the same system (GoGo) that most of the rest of the industry uses so it is entirely possible that either the automation is different or WN built in very strong manual processes to ensure customers really do get what they pay for and nothing less.

Feel free to twist what I said any way you want. That is not what I said. I still doubt that on a systematic basis WN relies on FA comments to essentially trigger a credit card refund for poorly delivered WiFi service. It doesn't mean that WN couldn't do that but that the chances that a process that is as complex as you describe working exactly as it should on a continuous basis is slim.

That is not a negative comment about or its people or its customer service.

That is an assessment of the level of complexity involved in ensuring a quality WiFi product.

again, I would like to hear from someone at WN who is actually knowledgeable with the system to confirm whether there is automation involved or whether it is really a totally manual process.

Nothing more, nothing less.
 
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A good friend of mine works for Aircell. The reporting detail they have is incredible, and yes, they can identify when the wifi craps out and take action.

Charges go thru immediately (unlike other services which have to be batched when back on the ground). That's a business decision based on the fact it's a signature-free transaction. It's not hard to spoof a credit card if you understand the validation algorithms (valid bin plus the mod check).
 
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thank you, E. your contributions to this board on technical issues are valuable.

As I expected, the system itself is superior to GoGo and talking with the FA or not won't change the process.
 
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eolesen said:
A good friend of mine works for Aircell. The reporting detail they have is incredible, and yes, they can identify when the wifi craps out and take action.

Charges go thru immediately (unlike other services which have to be batched when back on the ground). That's a business decision based on the fact it's a signature-free transaction. It's not hard to spoof a credit card if you understand the validation algorithms (valid bin plus the mod check).
I know that row44 is also able to tell when the wifi is working or not- and I'm sure their system provides the same type of feedback as aircell (gogo). I always thought it was odd that most other airlines (who actually fly overwater) use the ground based gogo, while WN uses satellite based row44 and until somewhat recently never really flew overwater routes.
 
oops.... I misread E's post regarding his knowledge about GoGo to be about Row 44.

thanks, blue collar.

the point for either system and any automated system is that quality control should be automated - the same way the customer accesses the system.

QC for any automated process shouldn't involve talking to a human if the customer didn't have to do that in order to obtain the service in the first place.
 
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