Having “grown up” working with call centers, I’ve always had a fondness for the industry. I have always believed there would be a need for that channel of communication in the digital age and that the combined synergies held untold potential. However, a recent experience left me disheartened.
Long story short, I tried purchasing a US Airways ticket online for my son, who is 12 years old, to accompany me on a trip. Because I was purchasing the tickets with separate credit cards, I wasn’t able to complete his transaction online due to his age and an inability to reference my accompanying ticket. So, I called the airline’s 1-800 number, prepared with my confirmation number to arrange his ticket purchase.
An American Airlines representative fielded the call even though I dialed the US Airways number (you may recall that they merged in December of 2013). She spent the next 16 minutes trying unsuccessfully to locate my confirmation number (as it was a US Airways number) in the system and finally transferred me to a different agent who was able to help me. In the meantime, the fare rose by $45 and I had no recourse to get them to honor the lower fare of just a few minutes earlier.
There are likely a variety of ways to solve this disconnect. One thought I have is to create an online system that doesn’t require a subsequent telephone call to complete a non-standard but nonetheless straightforward transaction. Suggestion two is to make sure that if a call center is involved, its staff has the resources to help customers, without alienating them along the way.