A tale of two-airlines, and two-VERY different responses to customer concerns.
Lets take Spirit Airlines first: it seems a passenger on one of their flights ran into some lengthy delays which ruined their trip. After many unsatisfactory calls to Spirit customer service reps, they sent Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza a politely worded email requesting some compensation. Did they “deserve” any? Maybe not. But they didnt deserve this, either:
The CEO’s response:
“We owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.” –Ben Baldanza, CEO of Spirit Airlines
By sheer accident — it looks like he hit reply all evidently — Baldanzas inexcusably stupid response was sent back to the passenger, and is now all over the internet: Alex Rudloffs informative blog had it first, quickly followed by our friends at Gadling and Chris Elliott.
Let him tell the world how bad we are. — Uh, Ben, I think you just did that yourself.
Now, here’s a recent example of how Southwest Airlines does things: my wife and a colleague were traveling together on a recent flight, and they had no problems, EXCEPT her colleague left his Blackberry on the plane.
Well, the people at Southwest went to the trouble of checking the blackberry’s calendar, saw he had a lunch meeting with my wife, matched her name to the manifest, and called her to ask if she knew who owned the Blackberry. Then they mailed it to him at no cost!
Apples and oranges? Maybe. But customer service starts at the top, the attitude trickles down — treating people as numbers on a financial sheet (or worse) just doesn’t cut it in my book.
The Southwest people had to WORK to get that Blackberry returned. And they could have simply tossed it in Lost & Found (they now have at least 3 customers for life, me, my wife and her colleague).
Maybe its no surprise that the airline industry overall ranks below the IRS in customer satisfaction. And people werent all that satisfied with the IRS, which had a score of 65%. Only one airline ranked above 70%: yep, you guessed it — Southwest (who is also the only profitable one in the past 5 years — go figure)
**USA Today has done a follow-up on this story, so get caught up on the latest.