Column by VerticalResponse CEO/Founder Janine Popick, Inc.com "Why Your Customer Service Policy Stinks"
Sept. 24, 2012
I recently was on a flight on a well-known airline that shall not be named. I love flying with this particular airline because I can get online. Since I know I'll be on a plane for three to five hours, sometimes I save work so that I can do it while in the air.
Twice now, I haven't been able to get online with the wi-fi provider contracted by this airline. Other times, it's been so slow that it was impossible to do something as simple as loading a Web page.
The first time I had issues, I thankfully was able to get on a live chat to tell them I wanted a refund. The customer service rep gently told me they don't give refunds, just credit. I was not happy, but since I knew I'd be flying again, I lived with it.
This most recent time, I could only send and get email. So while on the flight, I got my receipt from the wi-fi provider, and replied that I wanted another credit. (For some reason, they didn't automatically apply the credit that I got from the last incident.) I was met with the following email:
Thank you for contacting (name withheld) Customer Care. We are very sorry to hear that you were unable to utilize our services on your last flight. Our service is not optimized for streaming/downloading any type of media like Pandora or Netflix.
We want everyone to have the ability to stay in touch, in flight. In order to preserve an equitable Internet experience for passengers on your flight, (name withheld) prioritizes different types of usage. Users consuming excessive bandwidth in a short period of time (example: downloading or uploading large files, streaming HD video, file sharing, multi-player gaming) may be temporarily given a lower bandwidth priority during some or all of their session.
The funny thing is, I couldn't get online even if I had a Netflix account. Secondly, if I was downloading things that don't throttle my ability to access Web pages, that should be the least action I should be able to take. Disappointments aside, I thought about how companies should really look at how they set customer service expectations, and how their policies stack up. Here are my three tips:
Unhappy customers are a fact of business life. But not anticipating how they got to be unhappy--and offering just a generic policy instead--could make even the most loyal customers (like me) look elsewhere.