Posted by: Marty Fahncke | August 9, 2007

Communication revisited – Customer Service

A coincidence of timing inspires today’s post.

Yesterday, I blogged about communication in a disaster.

Hours later, Seth Godin posted to his blog about communication in a disaster, and mentions airlines in particular.

At this very moment, I’m writing this post while sitting in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, waiting for United Airlines flight 1249 to depart.

It’s 11:07 pm. 

The flight was supposed to leave at 7:45 pm. 

United has changed the estimated time of departure FIVE TIMES.  The latest update is that we will leave at 12:30am.  I’ll believe it when I see it. 

(OK, so this isn’t a disaster, but Seth started it by mentioning the airlines.)

How has the communication in this situatioin been?  Dismal.  The poor frustrated lady at the desk doesn’t have a clue.  She only knows what she’s been told.  Which is nothing.

Those of us with laptops and a wi-fi connection have been getting updated information from the UAL website and weather.com, and sharing with the rest of the crowd.   Otherwise, nobody would know what is going on. 

5 hours (at least) of waiting, with little communication, and even less customer service.

(If the plane you are waiting for is stuck in another city two hours away with no hope leaving any time soon, and your customers are already several hours late, GET ANOTHER PLANE!)

Thanks United Airlines.  You could start by taking Seth’s advice…

Bottom line: the first thing to rehearse is your communication strategy. You can’t predict weird events, but you can get really good at alerting people when they happen.

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