Balancing costs and customer service is a rough road. Delta used to have ticket counters in all the major cities. With the exception of New York, they closed them all. In spite of all these and other measures, fuel cost contributed to a $6.4 billion loss this quarter. Ouch.
I got a call from a retired friend of mine today. He was totally frustrated because he wanted to renew his Crown Room membership and he could no longer drive over to the mall and visit the ticket office. So he called the general line and enjoyed the piano on hold music. The agent said he could renew on line. No computer. So they mailed him an application that he could fax in. No fax.
Now this isn't just any traveler. Not only is he a million miler, but a "Flying Colonel" which is the level above platinum. Turns out Delta trashed that program several years ago when they cut a lot of frequent flier benefits (most of which have be re-instated).
So I placed a couple of calls: one to Andy McDill, Delta's spokesperson, and one to the customer service line. I got right through to an agent, Jim Reynolds, who walked me through all the options and suggested just renewing when checking in on the next flight. Not a bad option but I did question why they couldn't do it over the phone....... Andy called me back within the hour and he carefully (and cheerfully) explained why the procedures and we talked about fuel prices.
But in the end, I logged onto my computer and got the renewal done . (Don't understand why Delta can take a credit card on the phone to buy and ticket but not renew a Crown Room membership. I wonder if they out-sourced that....)
Two things to take away:
1) In times of trouble, be responsive (like Delta): you need all your friends more than ever.
2) Your best customers are your best customers. Treat everyone well, but go the extra mile for them.