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Posts from April 2017

Customer Service Needs to Be Local

Maybe Donald Trump is right about bringing jobs back home. Let me compare two experiences I recently had with British Air under the exact same scenario.

My flight to Marseille from LAX was on two separate record locators. In the past all that took to correct was a call to BA's executive club desk and as they were both Avios tickets, the club could cancel out the continuation segment, put the miles back in my account, then reapply them to my already existing reservation and everything was on one record. They used to also do this all for free.

When I knew my final travel plans were locked, I called up and was received warmly by the Indian call center team member, but all I got was polite, "we can't do that any more" or long holds of 20 minutes while "he checked with a supervisor" and finally the help desk. That's when magically the way to get it done was revealed.

So when it came time to check in, I was able to check in for my LAX to LHR flight the day before, but not the continuation to Marseille. When I got to LAX I was told it appear d my Marseille bound flight reservation existed but was not paid for as the call center never processed the change fee. This was despite the Indian supervisor politely telling me everything was handled and that the payment department would take care of things. That never happened and it was at LAX that the change fee got collected. Given I was on a 330 pm flight and arrived at 115 no big deal.

But tomorrow's flight is at 725 and the idea of getting to the airport at 6 is already challenging enough, let alone having to be concerned if last Saturday's combining of my two return tickets into one record was done right. Turns out despite Emma from the U.K. assuring me it would be, that this morning it still wasn't processed for payment by the outsourced payment processing group.

Enter Johnny from Manchester. What a hero. Within a few minutes he was able to solve the issue, get to the reticketing eticketing department, and in less time than he promised I was able to check in for my entire flight home.

The old adage of "Once bitten, Twice shy" applied here.

When I checked in at LAX the check in agent lamented to me about how many times the off shore call center that handles calls from the USA says they are doing things that don't get done at all, or are done incorrectly. She went on to say that this only leads to frustration from travelers and delays everyone involved.

That conversation led me to be more aware of things, what cues to look for, and how to prevent a replay.

Avoiding a replay meant calling the U.K Call Center this morning when my routine check-in wasn't routine at all. Oh, and why the U.K call center? Easy, those calls stay in the U.K.

So maybe it's time we bring customer service for companies doing business in the U.S. back to the U.S. The argument that it's cheaper to outsource may apply to those who outsource, but for customers whose service gets outsourced it costs more in wasted time and added frustration than is ever really necessary.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Almost Half of Travelers Want VoIP on Airplanes (In Asia/Pacific)

This is one of the most controversial tech subjects I know of. VoIP on airplanes. A recent survey in the APAC region shows that 42 percent of the travelers there would like to see VoIP calling allowed in-flight. That's 2 out of every five traveler who want to be able to make a call from the air.

As someone old enough to remember when Airfone was found in the seatbacks of domestic airplanes here in the USA I really don't see what the hubbub is all about. As long as people use what is known as "public voice" and keep their sound levels to a quiet conversational tone, voice calling isn't such a bad idea to see come back.

What's more I'd be happy to see some restrictions like no calling on a night flight or red eye after 11 PM. of the destination or limit calls to 3 minutes or less and no repeat calling the same number more than once in an hour. Let's face it, with text and email we've already proved we can cut down phone calls and get the same message across with text and attachments..

Accor Hotels Blocking Skype, Thankfully There's Dialpad

This week I've stayed in three Accor brand hotels, a Mercure and two Ibis Styles. Granted they are not my usual type of accommodations, but when it comes to traveling along the wine route for Decouvertes du Rhone, they are conveniently located and value priced. What they don't have though is functioning Wi-Fi and never really have.

For years I was challenged by their blocking of the ports to allow use of anything but WebMail to the point of creating a Google Apps domain back in 2007. Then it became harder to also use Microsoft Exchange which led to a full switch for the company to Google Apps.

Now it seems they block Skype. And not only Skype, even Skype's web page so to renew a Skype In number I had to do it on my mobile phone connected over LTE vs. the Mac.  

Thankfully services like Dialpad, Zoom, WhatsApp and Telzio all worked on my Mac, and on the mobile Telegram and WhatsApp too. The biggest issue was talking to my staff. Instead of doing it all on the laptop I had to use the big deal, but in this day and age, I shouldn't need a VPN in branded hotels....ugh