Why Customer Service Should be Fair

My maternal grandmother died a couple of weeks ago, while I was in Austin at SxSWi. At 95, she was still an amazing woman who lived a very long and happy life. It was fortunate that I could take the time to go back and visit with loved ones while finishing work projects.

All the better weather-wise with spring already on its way in Italy.


Alas, my travels started off on a very disappointing footing. Despite being in the correct lane after checking in online as instructed by Lufthansa, I ended up waiting behind people who had not used the same courtesy and encountering a cranky gate attendant.

Whenever I travel, in addition to a larger suitcase, which I check in, I tend to bring a small carry on for any gifts I purchase. I usually carry it on the plane with my computer case. The roller stoves wheels toward the overhead door even in smaller regional aircrafts.

My carry-on Yet, the attendant decided I was to check it in.

On some international flights, I experienced significant damage to bags and had quite a few items stolen from the suitcases. This had not happened with Lufthansa before, hence why I favored the airline when traveling to Europe.

However, it feels like the new security rules are the catch-all excuse for making things more miserable for people whenever airline personnel is not having a good day. My carry on was damaged by Lufthansa. Luckily, I found it when arriving at destination.

At the time, I failed to see why I was singled out at departure for check in when many carried even bigger bags on board, as you can see in the images above. I took the photos with my iPhone at the gate, and during boarding.

You can also see the image of an empty overhead on my flight from Frankfurt to Bologna, where a small carry on would have fit as it does on US flights. That was the biggest justification I was given for not allowing me to bring the bag on board at the departure gate.

Customer service should be fair — it's not.

It isn't online, in social media, as it isn't in person. You could easily say it's tough luck, and you would be pointing out the number one reason why often social media initiatives by organizations fail. The digital format allows more than the person who experiences the difference to see it. The public nature of online communication demands a more consistent approach.

The Web is a customer service medium. Yet organizations insist on using it as broadcast media.


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0 responses to “Why Customer Service Should be Fair”

  1. The thing is, customer care isn’t a fixed thing. It isn’t constant, it isn’t always fair for me, for you, for anyone. The experience changes because the customer care representative changes, and there’s no training which can grant this, 100% of the times. A simple cranky day for one of the responsibles can mean a cranky day for any customer they get in touch with.
    How can you really prevent that?

  2. I’m thinking that there should be a way to tell your best customers — the people who buy time and time over from you — from the rest. And possibly, gulp, treat them better.

  3. This is a tough one. I like to think a company which empowered staff to truly serve customers would see reduced issues of this sort. All the same, how is a staffer to respond to that one customer so emotionally unintelligent as to allow some trifling misunderstanding to escalate to the most heinous of personal insults?
    Seems to me there are enough people looking for jobs these days, we could afford to weed out those who clearly don’t have an interest in doing their jobs.
    At the same time, it seems there are enough people getting bumped from flights (and we’re charging enough for checked bags, carry-on bags, in-flight snacks, headphones, pillows, blankets, et al) to afford to deny those vicious, mental midgets boarding.

  4. Ahh I totally relate to that! It happened to someone I saw at the airport getting on the same flight as me with a budget airline just last month.. He had to pay a ridiculous amount to check a ‘hand luggage’ bag which was about a few centimetres too big for the cabin – apparently.. Yet, there were people walking past him onto the plane while this was going on, with bigger bags at no cost to them! I guess, the less we pay, the worse service we can expect? :-/

  5. I confess I didn’t understand your comment entirely, Brian. My take is that she didn’t care. Her mind was made up and I as a person didn’t matter. I had already bought my ticket and was now forced to comply. You see the quality of people’s thinking from the decisions they make every instance.

  6. In reply to Gabriele’s comment that customer service varies by customer service rep is quite accurate in many situations, but not all. I’m having my own battle with Barnes & Noble, and it’s not any individual that is giving me the going on 4 months of grief. It’s the system. From terribly written form letters to an inept computer system to rules that justify leaving customers on hold for an hour, the system can be the cause, which is probably the most inexcusable. Like Valeria, I’m blogging about my troubles – each and every terrible customer service event. I only hope that Lufthansa and Barnes & Noble both listen.

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