Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – November 23, 2015

I want recount for you a recent experience I had with American Airlines, not to pick on AA, but to use it as a case study for what many of you are doing to your customers.

I called American Airlines reservations last week to book a flight to see a client in Philadelphia. Almost one and half hours and three people later, I finally had my ticket booked. Here are some of the particulars with some general questions for you to consider.

The agent I spoke to was in a call centre with other agents and the background noise was so loud, it sounded like she was in a noisy restaurant. I had to keep yelling my credit card information into the phone.

  • Are your employees taking customer calls in a place where they can best focus on the customer?

The travel voucher I was using to book the flight was issued in Canadian dollars, but the AA reservation system only accepts US dollars. It took 20 minutes and three people to figure out how to apply the voucher. Not to mention that it was a paper voucher and needed to be mailed in to be applied.

  • Is your technology or your internal processes limiting your ability to resolve customer issues quickly and effectively?

After all this was completed, I contacted the executive responsible for the customer experience at AA (whose title was SVP of the Customer Experience). I received a message from the Customer Relations department on behalf of this executive, who then proceeded to tell me they have no incoming phone lines so I can’t call them back.

  • Are you providing customers an easy way to get in touch with you?

What American Airlines forgot is that every customer complaint is an opportunity to connect with customers. It is an opportunity to help those customers become more loyal. Or even become evangelists for the brand. Had AA handled this properly, I could have become a more loyal customer. Instead, I will avoid using AA at all costs.

Are you providing customer service or doing your customers a disservice?

Looking for more insights?
Are you a small or medium-sized business owner looking to accelerate growth and maximize profitability? Then you need to register for my free workshop on How to Accelerate Growth Through Operational Excellence.
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To request an interview or more information, please contact:

 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2015.

American Airlines and Customer Disservice – Part 2

I thought I would continue to write about my ongoing saga with American Airlines, not so much as to pick on AA (as I do need to fly with them twice in the next month), but more of an experiment and a learning experience.

In my original post, I laid out the initial events on my phone call. I did finally get my ticket booked after 1 hour and 25 minutes on the phone, but wanted to add a few things that have happened since that original post:

  • In the middle of the call, I was transferred to the Resolutions department without being told and then had to provide the same information for a third time.
  • I was then told I needed to mail in my travel voucher before my ticket could be issued. Why did they mail me a hard copy voucher if I need to mail it back to use it?
  • I was then told to call 72 hours before my flight if a ticket had not yet been issued to me to ensure I could actually travel on my flight. Why is the onus on me to do all the work?
  • I asked how long it would take to process my voucher once received and was told “It depends how busy they are.” Is that really what people should be telling their customers?
  • I tweeted about my experience and received this response from AA, “We’re sorry for any trouble you’re having applying your voucher. Our agents will work together to get you taken care of.” You mean those same agents who took almost two hours to book my original ticket? No thanks….
  • I sent an email to the SVP of Customer Experience providing the details of my ticket-booking saga. This morning I received a message from the Customer Relations department as a follow-up to my email. However, I can’t call them back because they don’t have an incoming phone number for me to call. Imagine that, a Customer Relations department with no way for customers to contact them.

More to come, I’m sure…..

 

 

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – November 18, 2013
Now that the merger between US Airways and American Airlines Inc. has been approved and a deal has been reached, it forces us to ask how combining two average airlines will make one better airline. Both US Airways and American Airlines have an average ranking (three stars) when it comes to in-flight service, dealing with flight delays, and even cleanliness of the airlines. These average ratings all point back to the front line people who work for these two organizations and how they treat customers of the two airlines. If the people aren’t passionate about their organizations and aren’t empowered to make a difference, then why do we expect anything to change with the combined airline?
 
Here are some questions the new organization should be asking as it moves forward with the merger:
  • Is our strategy to be a low cost airline, or provide quality service, or both?
  • If both airlines had service issues taking place on the front lines, is the issue the people, the culture, or the processes we have in place?
  • Are the employees excited and passionate about the opportunity to work for this new organization?
  • What do we need to do to build an organization focused on the answers to the previous questions?
“There should certainly be cost savings as a result of the merger because you don’t need two of everything so some consolidation will take place,” says Andrew Miller, president of ACM Consulting. “Hopefully the new organization will invest those savings back into the company to improve the performance of its people and truly focus on the customer experience. Customer retention is directly linked to employee empowerment, so the organization either needs to get better people on the front lines, or give them the ability to deal with customers better (or both).” 
 
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – February 18, 2013
With the news of two major acquisitions over the past two weeks, we see a flurry of activity beginning. With the purchase of HJ Heinz Co. by a group of investors led by Warren Buffett, and the “merger” between American Airlines and US Airways, here are some key tips that organizations should remember when embarking on a potential merger or acquisition:
  • The whole must be greater than the sum of the parts – This means that the combined organization after the deal must be better off than the individual companies were before. Too often these deals become just about cutting costs and not improving operations or increasing innovation.
  • Determine which culture will prevail Each company has a different culture, and one of them has to be chosen. Despite the use of the word “synergy” only one company culture can prevail (usually the larger company, frankly). In the merger of Canadian Airlines and Air Canada, we saw the absence of a clear culture decision and it took years and many unhappy customers for this deal to work out.
  • Develop an integration plan – Once you have identified the clear benefits of the merger or acquisition and the culture that will prevail, develop a plan that aligns with those decisions. Identify ambassadors from all levels of both organizations in order to help make the transition easier for employees and customers.
  • Don’t rely on existing people – If the people in your organization have never been through a merger or acquisition, why would they know how to approach it? Bring in outside support with successful experience leading people and companies through this kind of change.
“The key to making a merger or acquisition work is to ensure the people in both organizations know what is happening” says Andrew Miller, President of ACM Consulting. “Too many of these deals fail because the executives focus on upper level integration and forgot about the anxiety that all of the other employees are feeling.”
 
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.