United Airlines announced they will be closing their phone line with an India-based call center which handles their customer complaint line. What they may not realize, is that they are missing out on potential opportunities for finding Zealots among the customers of their brand.

A customer complaint situation is an opportunity for any company, hotel or airline alike, to take advantage of turning a guest from a detractor into a true supporter of the brand. If a guest is upset enough to complain, the opportunity exists to take the complaint and turn it into a home run for your brand. And even moreso, Zealots for the brand are highly engaged in the brand and highly believe it in. They are potentially among those who are more likely to complain because they are so familiar with it, they know how things are supposed to be, and when things go wrong they are sure to take notice.

Customers don’t want an Indian call center “logging” their issue, they want to feel as if their voice is being heard, with both understanding and sympathy and to have the situation rectified to their liking.  They want the experience to be personal and they want to feel as though a change is being made as a result of their speaking up, that they have helped in some way in the success of the brand.

Brands should make the  process as easy and hassle-free for their guests as possible to provide feedback, both positive and negative, and should always take a proactive and responsive action to such feedback. Perhaps this is an opportunity for United to tackle the competition and refine their customer feedback process; to do it and do it well. And the shocking thing is, a phone conversation gives you a two-way conversation and the ability to ask questions about the experience, rather than a one-sided encounter on paper. Why would you want to only go to a less-effective way of handling guest relations?

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