United Eliminates Communications Channel....to Improve Customer Experience?

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Customer Experience
Generally, offering customers more choices is a good thing, right? United Airlines doesn't agree, since the company announced that it was closing a call center in India that handled customer complaints and compliments. What does United suggest customers do instead of call? Write an email or letter. If you think this sounds backwards, you're not alone.

Generally, offering customers more choices is a good thing, right? United Airlines doesn't agree, since the company announced that it was closing a call center in India that handled customer complaints and compliments. What does United suggest customers do instead of call? Write an email or letter. If you think this sounds backwards, you're not alone.Customers who have a negative experience flying want to speak to someone right away, whether it's someone at the gate or someone in a call center. Maybe United is hoping that by asking them to put their comments in written form, they'll calm down. I know the people I've seen in airports on the phone with an airline generally shout and turn red (whether this is from the negative experience during their flight or trying to communicate with the CSR in India, I'm not sure).

United's defense is that customers who are assisted via email or letter are more satisfied with the company's response. That probably has something to do with the fact that people sending a compliment or a minor problem are more likely to email than call right away. The solution isn't to eliminate a communications channel because customers served that way are less satisfied; the solution is to make that channel more effective in handling customer complaints.

United's new plan calls for reservation agents to handle incoming calls from the most valuable customers. The company plans to cease publishing its customer relations number, which means everyone else is out of luck if they want immediate assistance.

The company's spokeswoman claims that the change is "cost-neutral" which makes me wonder even more why they made this decision. If it wasn't to save money, why on earth would you limit the ways customers can reach you? Does this make any sense?

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