Committed to the Customer?

Who? The agent or the computer?

Before you read this story, I’d like you to take a minute to review Delta’s Customer Commitment message which is located on the official website.


The full message can be found by clicking this link.

My friend John was enjoying his annual trip to the French countryside when news came that his lifelong friend (Tommy) has passed away and would be laid to rest in Louisville, KY in 2 days.  To make matters more daunting, John had committed to doing Tommy’s eulogy some months before Tommy started his certain journey with cancer.

Unsurprisingly, John set out to change his flight home to allow him to make due on his commitment to perform the eulogy for his best friend.  John originally purchased a first-class ticket and was initially scheduled to fly from France to Louisville in 10 days, BUT he had to get home in 2 days for the services and to perform his eulogy.

His first effort was to speak with a Delta customer ‘service’ rep on the phone.  He figured that after telling another human being about the circumstances behind him needing to change his flight, they’d certainly understand and be willing to assist him; especially considering that this company has such a visceral dedication to customer service (revisit customer commitment #12).

While on the phone with a Delta customer service rep, John was warmly informed that he could move his flight up to the needed time for a measly extra $3,000.00 in additional fare BUT he would have to downgrade his ticket to coach.

If that ain’t customer commitment I don’t know what is.

John hung the phone up on the Customer Hatred Rep and dialed back with the required and proper solution:  A nice glass of Kentucky Bourbon.  No ice, no water, no soda.  Neat.

A few hours later, John realized that his only alternative was to take matters into his own hands and attempt to reschedule his flight over the internet.

And just like that, John’s problem was solved.  He was able to book back a timely flight for only $2,000.00 extra and a downgrade to coach.  That’s customer service!  Delta hit America’s customer service jackpot.  A trifecta.  A hat trick.

Delta hit all three pieces of ACSD!

  1. Bad, thin-skinned personal behavior.
  2. Misuse of technology
  3. Disconnected advertising campaign

The kicker here is the complete and utter misuse of technology.  How is it possible that a 67-year-old customer in a foreign country with spotty internet service can manage to find a more affordable flight option than an a full-time employee who works for Delta Airlines?

Delta, if you’re reading this, I have a suggestion for you.  I’d strongly consider rewriting #12 on your customer commitment list.  Maybe you could put something in there about helping heartbroken, loyal customers that have already booked flights with you?

Scratch that.  That would be another opportunity to build brand and customer trust and who in the hell wants to do that when you have a chance to get an extra $2,000.00 in revenue and sell the first class seat twice.

Now that’s a good business model.

So once again dramatic evidence of the ‘Disconnect’—-the third piece of America’s Customer Service Disaster.  But you must give Delta credit.  As much as any company, they are great examples of all three pieces of the customer service collapse going on.  However, this story is most insightful of where their heart really is:


Not sure Tommy’s was the only funeral last week.  I think Delta had one.

Do better, Delta.

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