On the Other Hand, Maybe I'll Walk

I don't fly enough to qualify as a world-class road warrior, but I've logged enough time in the air and in boarding lounges to know that the glamor is long gone and "friendly skies" are a thing of the past. Still, stories like this one from last week are enough to give one pause. Of course, it's a good-news story. Everybody got off alive and, for the most part, unhurt. Can't ask for much more than that when the plane's engines seem to have shut down before they should have.  However, if we can believe Nick Denbow, the editor of processingtalk.com  (and there's no reason not to), the aftermath wasn't so pretty. While everybody was rightfully focusing on what might have happened and didn't, thanks to some pretty brilliant flying (or not flying, in this case), the customer service end of the business seems to have collapsed pretty badly. I've flown BA a few times and have never had a bad flight with them. And maybe because my hometown airport is Chicago's O'Hare, the craziness at Heathrow never strikes me as being all that awful. But I also have enough UK friends and family to know that BA is not every Englishman's favorite airline. It's the customer service part that drives everybody crazy. Now we know why. The reason I call attention to Denbow's rant is his analogy to our industry. Bad customer service certainly isn't limited to big airlines. I'll be watching to see if anybody takes him up on his offer to try to match the BA horror story in the process industries. The lesson from this cautionary tale (aside from the one about thinking hard before buying another plane ticket) is that companies unaware of the power of the Web to smack them hard upside the head for product and customer service foul-ups are skating on thin ice. People will talk, and now they can reach a worldwide audience with a few keystrokes. It's easier than ever to wind up on the Global PR Wall of Shame.  When was the last time you checked on your company's PR disaster recovery response plan?  Just askin'.

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