July 16, 2009
Continental Customer Service: Elite Access Vs. Average Customer
For the first time in my life, I actually booked tickets for a flight for the wrong day. I am actually not to blame, because the SES site does say Monday through Thursday, but I didn't realize that Monday is a training session day and not really part of the conference.
Since I booked the flight a few days ago, I was hoping pushing the day forward would not cost me too much. I dialed the main line to Continental Airlines and spoke to four people, with hold times of about 7 minutes (on average) before speaking to each person. Each person said, we can't change your flight without a change fee, plus your fair is going to be much higher. I said, I then asked if they can do something, so I was transferred twice before speaking with someone who was basically yelling at me for the mistake.
I won't say her name, because I forgot it and I don't want her to get fired. But she was like, "Why are you asking me about this?" I said, I don't know, I was transferred here by the other person. She asks me again, "why would you speak to me about this, I can't help you!" I kept saying, I didn't ask to speak to her, but they transferred me to her. She just kept on going, making me feel stupid that (1) I was speaking with her and (2) I booked the wrong flight. Okay, I was stupid for #2, but still.
I then apologized to this customer service person. I told her, I am sorry if I am making your day turn out bad. I added that I really didn't mean to be transferred to someone who cannot help me. I just want to find out if I can do something about my mistake. She basically grunted and asked again for my confirmation number, so I gave it to her. Then the shocker....
She said, "Your elite access," I said yes, I know. She then began apologizing to me for the trouble and said she would transfer me to the "elite desk." She then apologized three more times and transferred me. Wow!
The elite desk answered right away, made the flight change for free, with a slight cost for the flight difference. And I was all set within minutes after being transferred to the "elite desk."
I was shocked to see how Continental treats their "average" customer, compared to those that have "elite" access (i.e. fly more than 25,000 miles a year with them). I know you treat your better customers better, but to virtually yell and belittle the "average" customer and then treat your best customers like gold, seems way off to me. There has to be a better balance between the two.
And if you are off to SES San Jose, double check the agenda and make sure you are flying in and out the correct days.