Customer Service – What Does It Really Mean?

Customer Service – What Does It Really Mean?


Southwest Airlines Has Heart

In meeting with a new public relations client for PR Power about revising his website copy, we discussed what differentiated him from others in his field. “I give a s__t!” he stated emphatically. And I supposed that is really the basis of customer service. If you care about your customers—their needs and their need for your service, your real question is, “What can I do for you?” or “What problem can I solve that will make your life easier?” THAT is really what people want from any service business.

His comment was starkly opposed to the response I got recently from American Airlines when I was requesting a partial refund for a ticket that had to be cancelled due to a medical condition experienced a year ago. I was trying to re-book the travel, having already forfeited the Airline’s $200 fee for allowing a partial credit on the $200 balance of the ticket—for a flight within a year. However, the year was from the date of purchase—NOT the date of travel, which was not clear to me at the time—possibly because I was in a severe medical crisis and more concerned about healing than an airline ticket.

However, in my written plea to American Airlines to receive the credit and re-book the ticket—which would cost me another $200—they said this:

Ms. Demartini, we believe that offering a full year to rebook travel provides our customers the flexibility they need to use their flight credit. I’m sorry for any disappointment I might cause by declining your request.

I tried to respond to the email, “You made your decision and I have made mine. I will fly with Southwest Airlines from now on since they do not penalize for cancelled flights.” But I couldn’t, because you can ONLY talk to American Airlines via an online form. They were not “sorry” but they are a sorry company. NO customer service – NO public relations.

This clearly shows they do not care—not about me and not about losing a customer or the additional fare they would have received if they had credited the part of the ticket I felt I deserved. A simple apology that their policy was not clear and that they would make this one-time accommodation would have made me a happy and repeat customer. They win, I win but instead, we all lose; me–money and time, them–a customer and their reputation—which is the most valuable company asset. I spent $400 with American Airlines and they did not deliver one dollar of service. Am I angry? Yes!

While I look forward to writing my new client’s website materials, with a clear customer service message, I also look forward to taking my trip via Southwest Airlines, an airline that literally has a heart in its logo. American Airlines—you have lost my business and I am happy to spread the word about why. That is Public Relations.

By |2018-02-14T05:48:52+00:00October 4th, 2017|Business Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

Marilyn’s passion for and professional interest in physical fitness and sports began with her first job as a fitness instructor in Pittsburgh, PA. She continued to teach yoga and fitness classes and escalated her commitment when she became certified as a Fitness Instructor and later added a NASM certification in Senior Fitness. DeMartini’s marketing career segued from agency work into fitness apparel marketing, which years later led to writing for sporting goods trade publications, an area in which she excelled as apparel editor, and continued for another decade. As a health and fitness journalist, DeMartini studied under top professionals in the field. She attended numerous fitness seminars and workshops, in search of the hottest trends, latest research and most beneficial workout programs, ranging from fitness fashion and functional training to sport-specific training (golf, running, weight-training) and yoga. She also wrote a Longevity Medicine column for over 1½ years for GNC’s Physical magazine and a fitness for golf column with Golf Tips magazine. Later, DeMartini segued into international powerboat racing where after handling PR for the World Championship Drambuie On Ice team she covered the sport as an online journalist for Speedvision. She also was featured on American Powerboat TV where she interviewed professional racers in venues around the country, presenting the excitement of powerboat racing to viewers on various regional sports channels. Today, while continuing PR and journalism in the marine and other industries, her fitness instruction modalities continue, ranging from yoga to functional and circuit training, running and cycling. She was also featured in a video, “Hard Body Yoga.” DeMartini resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where she owns PR Power marketing agency; she branded FIT Lauderdale to extend to her reach into the area fitness and yoga communities. She is an exercise and yoga instructor and has also conducted workshops for seniors mixing big band music with a chair and stretching exercises called “Big Band Bend & Stretch.”

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