I came across an interesting “lead in” piece on TV last month. The opening shot was a plane full of crying babies. It wasn’t October, so I knew it couldn’t be about Halloween or some other promotion for a scary movie. The idea alone conjures up nails scraping a blackboard or seeing envelopes in your mailbox from the “Tax-man”.
No, it was none of the above…it was a promotional stunt by the Air Carrier Jet Blue. Even more incredible was that everyone was cheering! It was the first ever “fly babies” flight where every time a baby cried, passengers got 25% off their next flight. Needless to say, all passengers got 100% free flights on their next journey. You can watch the video on YouTube by clicking here – Congrats Jet Blue! That’s how you turn a negative into a positive.
How about when it goes the other way?
I have written before about customer service centers and how they can make – or in the case of the horrendous ones – break your company. How about when just a simple tweak could save a customer, but the missed opportunity not only lost you a customer but also brought your company negative “goodwill”? Let’s take the fiasco of my American Express Credit Card as an example.
Twelve years ago I became an American Express Customer. I had never missed a payment and was never late. Then came the 2008 crisis and out of nowhere, my limit was cut from the high level which wasn’t being used to what my balance was that day ($2,200). One can’t really do much with a $2,200 limit, by the way! So reluctantly I said “OK…I understand” but kept the card active after I paid it off. Don’t forget each year you have to pay an annual fee. Fast forward to 2014, and surely things have loosened up a little. I got a letter in the mail to congratulate me that my limit was raised by $250. Really?
In 2015, I was able to get the card back to $15,000 and I kept virtually no balance on there. By this time I had relocated back to Dubai and we received only sparse emails from them. OK, here’s where it gets crazy. Out of nowhere I got an email saying my card was severely overdue. Oh no! How could this happen? I had been so careful. I scrambled to the site to find a $175 balance. I don’t remember making a $175 purchase or even using the card.
Let’s call Customer Service!
“Hello Sir, how can I help you?”, the call began. After a little investigation, I was told that a $10 E-Book charge was made months before.To my dismay, each month there was a late fee assigned and the late fee was calculated on the late fee! I explained that I am overseas and to please look at my history. I didn’t know how the original charge had even occured.
“Yes Sir, thank you for being a loyal Amex customer”.
“No,” I explained.”I had no idea about this, can’t you waive these fees, or at least one or two of them?”.
“No sir …its company policy”.
“Well then take my other card…let me pay and close my account!”
“No problem Sir, we will be happy to assist you!”
What!!! After 12 years you are kicking me to the curb just like that, I thought to myself.” Is that it…?” I asked the customer service representative
“Yes Sir… have a nice day.”
Was damage inflicted? You bet!!
In conclusion, they had a chance to retain me as a customer, but even if they didn’t want to keep me they could have made it less painful. It takes so much time trying to get clients; my suggestion is spend at least that amount of time to save them. That’s it, I’m late for a Jet Blue flight, got to go……