The other day we were flying from Denmark to Australia via Frankfort and Singapore. An hour before the flight was due to leave I checked the departures board to see the gate number and I couldn’t find the flight listed. At information, I enquired why the flight wasn’t listed to be told they thought the flight had been cancelled and I should go to the transfer desk to find more information. At the transfer desk, I took a number and waited to be served. The airline (a major European airline) had no representation at the airport, despite having numerous flights every day from the airport. Instead, all inquiries were handled by Star Alliance representatives. When my number came up I was informed that indeed the flight had been cancelled, no reason was given and they had no further information. I was told to return in an hour.
An hour later I returned, took a number and waited for several others to be attended to. The partner representative informed us that they had no further information from the airline. Our baggage had in the meantime been put on a conveyor belt at the arrivals hall and we could collect it, then ask for a hotel voucher from the ticketing office. There was no sign of any airline representative and no information about when our flights would be rescheduled (including all our connections). By now there was an airplane load of passengers all congregating at the desk, taking tickets and waiting to receive very scant information. Needless to say, some were becoming rather irritable.
We phoned the airline office directly and were told there was nothing they could do until we had collected our baggage and ‘unchecked’ it from the flight.
At no time did anyone explain why the flight was cancelled, although we saw on the airline website that all flights into and out of Frankfurt had been cancelled or delayed by a large storm.
With no news, we decided to exit the departures hall and collect our bags from the arrivals hall. There we found the bags had all already been offloaded from the belt and another airline’s bags were going around. We went to the office in the baggage claims area. The Star Alliance representative seemed surprised to have us ask for help, but he set to work, disappeared to a back office, then returned and escorted us out the baggage hall to another counter where he again disappeared. He returned a few minutes later with boarding passes for our flights the next day, a hotel voucher, train tickets to the hotel and back to the airport, and a map of how to get to the hotel. He explained that he had arranged a late checkout at the hotel as our flight was in the evening and the hotel voucher included dinner and breakfast. This one person had literally saved the day for us and the airline company. He had efficiently sorted everything out and clearly explained where we had to go and what we had to do. He went out of his way to help us even though it probably wasn’t all part of his job.
While eating dinner at our hotel we noticed several passengers from our flight checking into the hotel, long after we had arrived. Everyone looking tired and frustrated. Obviously, they had taken even longer to get the correct information.
The following night we returned to get on our new flight. This was delayed by 40 minutes. Again there was little communication about the delay and onward connections with no sign of an airline representative.
From this experience, we can see how vital good communication is with customers. How much easier would it have been for a company representative, or a designated person with the correct information, to have made a general announcement informing passengers immediately it was known the flight was cancelled, the reasons why it was cancelled and the next steps to be taken by passengers so they could exit the airport as quickly as possible. Knowing there was a problem a couple of employees should have been designated to deal with the problem and issue the hotel vouchers and replacement flight information in an ordered fashion.
This example also shows how valuable some employees are to a company when they go out of their way to assist customers, turning a bad experience around. These employees need to be cherished because they really add value to your brand.
Construction is like any other service industry. Things will go wrong on our projects, but it is how we deal with these problems that make the difference with our customers. It’s vital to communicate with customers. But just as important is to communicate with our employees, so they understand what is happening, and, that when they talk to the customer there is a consistent story.
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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