Customer Service & Your Brand: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

Jun 20, 2011   //   by kim   //   Branding, Customer Service, General  //  No Comments

British Airways Poor Customer Service British Airways suffered a blow today and they probably don’t even know it yet…and they probably never will. I just read an article on the “Business In Blue Jeans” blog. The author of this article was giving tips about customer service primarily by illustrating through a personal story how British Airways did it wrong. She was just using this experience from her own life to emphasize the points in her article but what hit me so strongly was that there was a “story within a story” here.

The story did exactly what the author intended – pointed out all the many mistakes British Airways made in their customer service in dealing with her lost luggage. Their lost luggage and claims customer service processes definitely weren’t designed to be easy on the customer. In fact, it almost appeared as if they purposely made this process difficult so most people would just give up before the claim was ever paid out.

British Airways also didn’t have customer service emergency backup plans in place. If communication got lost or ended up at the bottom of a pile on one administrator’s desk, there didn’t seem to be any mechanisms for follow up on submitted claims and definitely no checks in balances in place to ensure that a claim made it through their internal processes successfully or even at all.

They certainly didn’t keep the customer informed and they didn’t respond and communicate quickly either. This woman went for over 3 months before hearing anything and it would have been longer had she not kept calling until she reached the CEO of British Airways. Then, it was another 2 months before she received her check.

Finally, they broke the “Golden Commandment of Customer Service” – go the extra step to satisfy your customers and apologize if necessary. In fact, when she did finally receive a check for her claim – 5 months after the incident – it was HALF of what she put on her claim form!

Obviously this was a great story to illustrate the author’s points. But what it illustrated to me even more was how one negative customer service experience could really damage a company’s reputation quickly. Many businesses seem to think, “...one unhappy person doesn’t matter that much.”

Oh how wrong they are! I wonder how many people – like me – read this British Airways unhappy customer‘s blog? And I read it because someone else read it and forwarded it to me since they knew I was always seeking marketing and business information to blog about myself. I also wonder how many people – like me – went on to blog about this story themselves? So, just counting the people I know about, that is three people who are unhappy with British Airways over this incident. I am sure there will be many, many, more who read the original author’s blog – and who read this blog – who will feel the same way.

What you can take from that is this… In these days of the pervasiveness of the Internet – these days of social communication and information that spreads like wildfire through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – “just one person” is neverjust one person“. When you are operating a business or a brand, you must always treat every single customer like they have the biggest audience in the world and can make or break your business with one little blog post. Because…it just might be true.

Leave a comment

Client Portal