Forgive but Don’t Forget Bad Customer Service

IMG_4586There are some companies you trust. Some that provide great service on such a consistent basis that if they slip up, you are quick to forgive…but not forget.

In the Newark airport, about to take a flight to Los Angeles, my dog, Miso, was welcomed with open arms. Literally. The Virgin America ticket clerks were nothing short of amazing during our check-in process. What did they do you ask? Here’s my list:

  • Welcomed us with happiness and lots of smiles (including calling over more reps to meet and talk with Miso…he loved the attention).
  • Provided all the necessary information for us out loud (not just handing us a ticket) about our flight (confirming details, seats, times, gate, etc.)
  • Thanked us for flying, including the group of ladies personally thanking Miso for “flying Virgin Air” in unison. While it may seem silly, it was pretty adorable.

Our flight went smoothly and we arrived with no hitches.

The trip back to the east coast was the exact opposite.

We arrived at the ticket check-in. While we waited in line, the ticket reps talked and laughed behind the counter, obviously having a good day. They saw us in line and one of the reps walked away. We approached the counter and I said, “Hello, how are you?” The ticket rep looked at me with glazed eyes and didn’t answer. He then said, “ID” and held out his hand. I laughed and said, “Okay…” and handed him my ID. I was traveling with my boyfriend who was standing directly next to me, holding Miso. The rep looked directly at me and said, “You are traveling alone today?” I looked at him, then to my boyfriend and said, “Uh, no–these two are with me.” He looked at my boyfriend and said “ID” again. He handed him his ID. I then said, “And we’re traveling with him” and pointed to Miso. He didn’t look up from the computer. He didn’t smile.  He was extremely disinterested in us.  At this point, you can imagine I was fuming with customer service fueled anger inside. I kept my cool, though.

He then took our luggage and shoved the tickets into my hands. I asked him if one of them was the luggage tickets (they looked different than the last time) and he didn’t look up at all from his desk but nodded.

I was standing there, with my boyfriend and the first thing out of my mouth was “Oh I’m so blogging about this.”

In May 2013, I shared a post about another Virgin America travel experience titled That Customer. They were nothing but wonderful during that trip.

It’s amazing how powerful one negative experience is.

In Jeremy’s recent post titled Meet Cesar-Super Customer Service Ultra Sound Technician he asks:

“Am I being too critical? Am I blowing mediocre customer service out of proportion?  Am I becoming impatient?” ~Jeremy Watkin

Now, I wonder–did I just blow this out of proportion? We got what we needed and had a safe journey. Can I just move on and forget?

Sadly, no, I don’t think I can. The customer experience is truly so powerful that no one else should either.

People mess up. Everyone has bad days and makes mistakes. We’re human after all! But, this rep was clearly not having a bad day. He just didn’t want to be at work helping people check in for their flights.

I Tweeted to Virgin and they responded asking for more information. I really just wanted to be heard at that point. They took my information and said they will investigate into it for coaching and training purposes.

So, while I will continue to fly this airline, I will not forget this experience.

And, it all just gets me thinking…how many bad experiences from a trusted company will you accept before they lose your loyalty?

[custom_author=jenny]

Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. She has worked at tech startups since 2005. She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at CustomerServiceLife.com. She's a certified health coach, but not the kind that forces you to only eat cardboard and deprive yourself of ice cream. JennyDempseyWellness.com, the company she started, was designed to bring a new type of wellness into the workplace, one that gives you permission to look deeper into yourself, rather than just on the healthy snacks in the break room. She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. She's also a Hanson fan for life.

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