Published in Aviation

Going the Extra Mile…or Not?

A few months ago, I flew to Europe.  I had booked the flight only two weeks early, and thus paid top dollar for my ticket. Upon returning home, I noticed that I hadn’t received any of the outstanding reward miles in my account.  I didn’t think much of it, concluding that they were likely still processing.  I completely forgot about the miles until I was booking a different flight a few months later and was a few miles short.  I remembered the forgotten miles, called the airline, and was then informed that the wait time to speak to an airline representative would be over two hours. No one should have to wait that long to speak to customer service, but that’s another post.

I was somewhat annoyed as I fly quite regularly with this airline and also use their airline credit card on a daily basis.  Prior to this, I would’ve consider myself a loyal customer and brand advocate.

The Flight that Never Landed

The airline called back over two hours later, and I explained to the customer service representative that I had not received any miles for my very long and very expensive flight.  The employee informed me that in order to get the miles, I would need my boarding pass.  They seemed perplexed when I informed them that I had thrown it away immediately after my flight four months earlier.

After strenuous questioning from me, they explained that the status of the flight had never been changed to “flown” in their log.  The flight had never been confirmed as being completed, thus they needed my boarding pass as proof that I had in fact boarded the plane and that the flight had actually happened.  Regardless of the fact that I had paid cash for the flight, they would not award the miles without proof, which proof was unattainable due to their error.   The representative suggested that I fill out an online request for further help with the missing miles, which I did immediately.  So far, my customer experience had been horrific.  Because of their mistake, they had wasted hours of my time and all of my patience.

Little Avoidable Mistakes Can Lead to Big Losses in Loyalty

A week later, Gloria from the customer experience team called my cell phone and informed me that the miles had been distributed into my account.  While I was relieved that my problem had been solved, I shouldn’t have had to call the airline in the first place.  There was no apology and no compensation for my wasted time.  Avoidable mistakes such as long hold times and incapable call center representatives led to a loss of my loyalty.

Every step in the customer journey is necessary and vital.  Companies must be aware of each moment, even after the purchase has been made and the service rendered. These turned out to be the most important parts of my customer journey.  If the airline would have noticed their mistake, apologized for the inconvenience, and fixed it immediately by awarding the deserved miles I would have had a totally different customer experience.  I would still be loyal, even an advocate for their company.  Awareness is essential, as sometimes the moments after the purchase are the most important. Be there for every step of the customer journey in order to satisfy, maintain, and dazzle your customers.