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Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Customer Service Story

I was offering to take my wife on a tour of Ireland this year. She liked the idea and was mulling it over when she received an email offer from a national travel firm for a series of trips to the British Isles. The offer had to be accepted in a few days to receive the special pricing, and we were told to contact any local office of the travel firm.

So off we went to a local office of this firm, where, after waiting over twenty minutes, the agent could not find any information of this offer, and suggested we contact our membership originating office in SE Florida. (Strike 1). We called - No luck in the SE Florida office either (Strike 2). So we went on to call the HQ phone number listed with the email. The agent on the phone had no idea about this offer either (Strike 3). So now you would think the game was over, but you do not know my wife.

She had waited over 20 minutes to have someone at the travel firm HQ answer the phone and she was not about to give up. She got his direct phone extension. While holding the HQ agent on the phone, my wife emailed the offer she received to him. He studied the email, put her on hold as he spoke to a supervisor and a few other people, including the tour provider. After about ten more minutes on the phone, he confirmed that this was a valid offer. It took another twenty minutes to select the dates and book the trip. My wife even had him provide an additional discount as offered if booked on time. She was careful to tell the agent that we would not be at our Florida home before the trip was to take place and that all documents, etc. were to be sent to our vacation home. She also gave him her cell phone number as a contact point. When the confirmation was emailed to us later in the day, don’t you know it…the address information was wrong! It confirmed our Florida address and phone number. No one answers this phone when we are not there!

My wife sent the agent an email outlining the errors and left him a voicemail. It was after 5PM on a Friday with a holiday weekend ahead. Without a response from the agent by the first working day after the holiday, my wife called the agent’s supervisor. She insisted on speaking to a supervisor after someone answered the phone, and got through.  The supervisor said the agent was on a one week vacation! How about someone else covering for him or a vacation notice on his email? In any event the supervisor took the information and hopefully it will all work out.

I guess we will not use this firm again!

How well does your customer service function?

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor



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