Lack of communication is the secret recipe to losing a customer.

It was my first ever solo trip – the idea of going to Spain for a month where I knew absolutely no one both thrilled me and caused much anxiety. However, the point of the trip was to push myself out of my comfort zone and so I made all the necessary arrangements and checked it twice.

Days passed and the next thing I knew, I was enjoying the summer sun and the gentle strums of Spanish guitars in the street of Barcelona. I thought to myself, “It can’t get any better than this”, but the gods must have been having a laugh because two days later, I was facing the worst screw-up of my life – my backpack, which I checked in prior to boarding my flight from Barcelona to Ibiza, was missing.

An hour later, when I landed on the tiny Balearic island, you can imagine the shock and absolute feeling of helplessness I felt at not having my belongings (which I so meticulously packed) with me.

Long story short, it took seven whole days for me to be reunited with my bag. By this point, I went from feeling lost, to being angry, to finally not giving a hoot because I still had a good three weeks of holidaying to do which I didn’t wish to ruin.

But what baffled me most out of this entire experience was the lack of support I received from the Spanish regional airline who misplaced my luggage. As soon as the conveyor belt stopped moving with no bags on it, I ran over to the customer service counter and lodged a report by giving very specific details of my luggage – I even repeated myself twice. When asked about my compensation, they told me to call the customer careline number, and was also promised that I would get my bag delivered to my hostel within 24 hours (hah!).

The next day, I realised that I could track the status of my complaint via the airline’s website. As I read the description of my complaint, I became fuming mad – my backpack, which I specifically said was blue, was registered on the system as being green. So off I ran to the airport again to give another round of super-specific descriptions.

By day three, I was a pool of tears out of sheer frustration because the customer careline I was asked to call had different charge rates. We’re talking 10 euros for a 20 minute phone call, half of which was me being put on hold. This resulted in me making another trip to the airport. This was when I learned that my bag was sent to Rome.

Beyond relieved that it was finally located, I was again promised to have my bag sent to me within 24 hours. Fast forward eight days from the day I lost my luggage, I was getting ready to check out of my hostel in Granada when I saw a familiar bright blue backpack next to my bed. I was in disbelief because I didn’t receive a phone call, SMS or email from the airline, but curiosity got the better of me and when I checked the bag – what do you know – it was indeed my missing bag.

Looking back, this whole blunder could have been converted into a win-win experience if the airline had several things in place:

Making That Emotional Connection

Let’s face it – if someone treats you well, chances are you’d return the favour. Had the airline and its staff made an effort to comfort me by providing instant compensation instead of sending me on a wild goose chase, I would have felt valued enough to become a loyal customer. Making that genuine emotional connection is so vital and I personally feel that businesses aren’t establishing this because they aren’t putting themselves in the customers’ shoes.

An Effective Customer Relationship Management System

If the airline’s luggage management system was hooked up to an effective customer relationship management (CRM) system, I wouldn’t have had to make multiple trips to the airport, or spend 20 Euros on a phone call to find out the status of my bag.

 

A CRM system would have effectively captured all the data about my flight (flight origin, destination, passport details, etc.) and after the initial complaint, the system would have recorded the number of times I had called. Most importantly, my case would have been logged into a workflow which would then have been escalated to all the relevant departments within the airline, and I would have received updates every step of the way.

 

From notifying me that my luggage had been found, its current location, providing me the exact time of delivery, and subsequently being compensated would have been communicated interdepartmentally and carried out efficiently.

 

If you don’t believe me on how CRM has the power to change a customer’s nightmare into an opportunity for businesses to secure life-long customers, just take a look at the statistic below.

capture2
Source: www.capterra.com

According to Capterra’s CRM Industry User Research Report 2015 that involved 500 business from a wide range of industries and of various sizes, CRM made a huge difference when it came to customer retention and customer satisfaction.

 

In essence, there were a bunch of things I learned over this solo trip. First off, human connection makes a big, fat difference. Throughout my trip and even after it, I gave bad reviews about the airline that I – individually – affected three different travellers. These people switched to a different airline after hearing my recount. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of bad customer service especially when it’s something for which you’ve paid. The second lesson (a huge pro) is that I now know that I am able to travel with a whole lot less. Last but not least, if you can, avoid checking in your luggage.

This article was written by Ruba Nackeeran, Corporate Communication and Legal Manager  of Lava Protocols and also appeared in Leaderonomics. 

Lava Protocols is a digital architect that has been revolutionizing businesses of all sizes, from various sectors by consulting and bringing together business success through implementation of leading cloud based solutions such as Salesforce.com and Google.