American Airlines: Listen!

by Marianne Richmond on April 19, 2008

Earlier this week fellow St. Louisian Bob McCarty who writes the blog Bob McCarty Writes sent me a link for some photos he had taken at Lambert St Louis Airport of the American Airlines pilots who were apparently picketing for their cause,  customer service. Bob also posted about this.

Bob asked in his post whether protests like this do more harm than good. Finger pointing in the middle of a crisis often does more harm than good.

As everyone knows, this has just been a really bad week for the airlines business in general; especially American.

But that customer service sticky wicket.

As American Airlines canceled flights last week, Hitwise noted a 74% increase in visits to social networks and forums. Customer service was most likely a hot topic.

As Internet Marketing Blog by NonanNight notes on April 16th , there were 134,000 results for “American Airlines sucks” on Google. Perhaps a data point for customer service.

Bruce Temkin at Forrester gives American a D+ for customer service as it related directly to their website. For his grades, he refers to his four componenets of good customer service, ACES:

  • Accountability (take responsibility for fixing the problem)
  • Communication (clearly communicate the process and set expectations)
  • Empathy (acknowledge the impact that the situation has on the customer)
  • Solution (at the end of the day, make sure to solve the problem)

American launched their own blog and assured the public on April 13th that AA Service Had Returned to Normal. If I were giving grades for blogs, this one would get an “F”. As passenger dissatisfaction continues to be expressed,  they quickly moved on from “normal” to another topic, airline consolidation and then nothing on their blog since April 15th.

American Airlines and those folks on their own blogs and social networks may have a different definition of “normal.” Read what Janis Petit, Julie McManus, and Terry Maxon among others have to say.

So, calling all airlines including American, pilots, employees and management: this is made up of lots of messes; listen to what is being said.

Finally, I really do have a question for the picketing pilots: Have you all ever heard of Eastern Airlines?

Thanks for the link to your photos, Bob.

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