This blog is coming to you late because the last few days have been an “adventure” and my thoughts were somewhat preoccupied. I write this blog at thirty five thousand feet in the air and my intentions are to share with you some of the worst services levels I have ever encountered while flying. That’s truly remarkable given the hundreds of flights I have taken. As an example I flew over seventy six thousand miles with Air Canada alone in 2012. I thought I saw it all until my most recent trip.
The purpose of my trip was to attend the TMG conference in Mexico. In no shape or form was my experience a reflection of the conference. The conference itself was great. TMG invited Kathy Gregory and me to attend, and to speak during the business session they held for all their brokers attending the conference. Unfortunately Kathy had to cancel the trip due to circumstances beyond her control but I was going to attend because it was TMG. The Mortgage Group is a valued customer of ours but more importantly because of my personal relationship with Grant and Debbie Thomas. If they ask me to attend, I’m there. I tried to do the right thing by supporting my friends but I also decided that I should get back earlier because plenty of work waits for me at the office. Simple, no? Clearly not.
My Executive Assistant booked a new flight for me to come back last Saturday, meaning that I would only be in Mexico for 48 hours. No problem, worth the effort for reasons noted above. I was originally scheduled to come back on the following Tuesday, yesterday. So there I am on Saturday bidding farewell to those who attended the conference. Off to the airport I go, along with other conference attendees who were leaving a little earlier. Of our group I was the last to check in at the Air Canada counter, and this where it gets nuts. Here’s how the conversation went with the Air Canada employee who was supposed to check me in:
AC Employee: I’m sorry sir but ju can’t go on de plane because ju name not on de list.
Bozic: It must be some kind of mistake, please check again.
AC Employee: No mistake, ju name not on de list.
Bozic: (Holding up my iPhone to show him my e-ticket). Is this an Air Canada confirmation?
AC Employee: Si
Bozic: Is it a confirmation for this flight?
AC Employee: Si
Bozic: Am I getting on this flight?
AC Employee: No
AC Employee: Ju name not on de list.
Bozic: How do I get my name on the list?
AC Employee: Ju got to talk to Air Canada.
Bozic: Is this the Air Canada check in counter?
AC Employee: Si
Bozic: At this moment do you represent Air Canada?
AC Employee: Si
Bozic: Can I talk to you about getting my name on the list.
AC Employee: Si
Bozic: Will you help me to get my name on the list?
AC Employee: No
Bozic: Why not?
AC Employee: Ju name not on de list.
I am not kidding, and they wouldn’t allow me on the flight. To make matters worse I contacted Aeroplan, because I have a number that I can call because I’m a “valued” customer at Air Canada. I call the number and the person on the phone says; “I’m sorry sir but there’s nothing I can do because you booked this trip on-line and not through Aeroplan”. So Air Canada’s solution was to strand a passenger and not care at all about the damage they were doing to their own brand; strict adherence to an employee procedural manual trumped creative thought and problem solving by Air Canada employees. I get it, people make mistakes. But there’s something called duty of care, and in my case Air Canada failed miserably in this regard. On the other hand, Best Points Travel who didn’t even book my flight back, we’re called upon to see if they could offer any assistance. They worked the phones tirelessly, calling everyone they could at Air Canada to see if they could get me back home. When they realized that Air Canada didn’t care at all they immediately booked me on a flight with United Airlines the following day. To Donna and Jennifer at Best Points travel, thank you for doing what Air Canada failed to do, actually giving a damn about a customer.
I have to say the following day got even more comical. Back to the airport I went on Sunday, this was really starting to look like the movie Groundhog’s Day. I said goodbye to everyone at the conference, again, jokingly saying I’ll see them at dinner tonight. I arrived at the airport, checked in at the Untied counter, ecstatic that my name was on the list. Boarding pass in hand I happily headed to the bar for a nice cold cervesa. I had few…. because I waited for five hours before United finally announced the flight was cancelled because of bad weather. Hand to go god I burst out laughing. I can’t blame United Airlines for bad weather. It happens, but I never should have been at the airport for that flight. I was only there because of Air Canada’s total disregard for a customer, and ultimately their hiring practices.
Remember, I was originally booked to come back on the Tuesday, and even with all the changes made to my flights I didn’t cancel the original Tuesday flight. I also never checked out of my hotel room early because I paid for it until Tuesday. Thankfully that voice in my head told me not to cancel the original flight and hotel room. I needed both to preserve some sense of sanity. And thankfully Sunwing Airlines got me home, and they gave me five hours of flight time to think and craft this blog. My little blog has had four hundred thousand page visits in just year and half, and now I got to share my Air Canada customer service experience with thousands of people. I feel a little better now.
Until next time
CheersRead More Add a Comment
Customer service can be defined many different ways. We all have our own definitions and standards, and we apply those standards differently. As an example, I think we expect to be treated differently given what we purchase, and where were we purchase it. If I’m buying clothing at a low cost store I expect to rummage through a pile of clothing to find what I’m looking for. Conversely if I’m buying an expensive suit, at a high end retailer, I expect a higher level of service. I think we can all rationalize that. Where the experience should be the same is when something goes wrong. The level of customer service, and ultimately how we judge customer service, is when we’re not happy. Companies that understand this, and excel at this, have a distinct advantage over their competitors. (more…)Read More Add a Comment
I want to share with you a retention strategy I just experienced, and I after I got off the phone I couldn’t help but wonder if we applied said companies retention strategy at Merix, would it help us to retain more customers?
Every company today has a customer retention strategy. Be it in the communication field, insurance industry, grocery stores, mail order, lending and mortgage brokering, Irrespective of the market sector…there’s a retention strategy in place. Some companies are good at it, and very aggressive. Retaining customers is critical to a company’s growth. Our industry is only now talking about this issue but the reality is it’s been a part of our work environment for many years, and the practice will become more prevalent going forward. The purpose of this blog is not to debate the “who owns the customer” question. I want to share with you a retention strategy that I just experienced, and I after I got off the phone I couldn’t help but wonder if I applied said companies retention strategy at Merix, would it help us to retain more customers?
The story goes like this. I decided to discontinue the services of an alarm company. If there’s any would-be break and enter specialists reading this blog, I didn’t say I wasn’t changing companies; I was just discontinuing to do business with a certain company. When all is said and done, I’ll have security numbers to enter, loud alarms that will go off, and a snipers nest on the second floor. What, that’s too much? Before I lose my train of thought, where was I? Oh yeah, saying goodbye to Joel. I’m not going to name the alarm company but they FORCED me to do it. The customer service rep said the following to me; “We’re sorry to see you leave Mr. Bozic, but I understand totally. Cancelling your service will not be a problem. We’re going to forward to you a list of instructions; we can send that to you by email or mail. The instructions are easy to follow, and we’ll also include a box with a courier slip from UPS. You have to send back all hardware by the 15th of the month. The hardware must in good working order, and in the same condition that you received them in. If we don’t receive hardware by the 15th of the month, you service will continue for another 30 days. Should you change your mind and wish to continue to use our services, we’ll gladly take care of that. We’ll forward another list of instructions”. Well, that’s easy, and very clever on their part. Clearly their strategy is to make it difficult for me to leave. So I couldn’t help but wonder what if Merix was to apply the same strategy?
“Hello Mr. Borrower. Yes, we did receive your discharge statement. May I ask why you have decided to take your mortgage business elsewhere? I see, the bank offered you 150 bp’s below our rate, a free chequing account, and a weekend at the banks CEO’s cottage in the Muskoka’s. I totally understand. The discharge process is very easy. We’re going to send you instructions…we can do that by email or mail. We will include a box, a plastic cup, as well as a courier slip from UPS. In the box you will include all the original documentation which was provided to you by your solicitor on closing, including the actual pen that you used to sign all the documents at the solicitor’s office. You will also include all the original documentation that the mortgage broker provided to Merix. Furthermore, a urine sample from the broker is required as well. That’s why we included the plastic cup. Please note that we have to receive the entire package by the 15th of the month. Once we’re in receipt of the complete package, your actual discharge date we’ll be set. To help you with that process, and to schedule accordingly, our discharge dates are set for next solar eclipse. Should you decide to change your mind, and stay with us, we will gladly forward a new set of instructions”.
In fairness to the alarm company, the customer service rep was very courteous and professional. He was doing his job, and he did it well. The reality is, my experience is happening every day in our industry. Lenders are investing money and resources with respect to their retention departments. Some lenders today require that they have to speak to the borrower prior to processing the discharge request. Trust me, it’s not to say “we’ll miss you Mr. Borrower, and we wish you well”. The lender will do everything possible to retain the borrower, and if reasoning fails…they’ll beg.
Ah, who am I kidding? I’m not removing the security code pad, filling holes in the wall, and removing all the wires around the windows and doors. I’m staying with the same alarm company. Joel, please take me back.
Until next time,
Cheers.Read More Add a Comment