The importance of a good customers service: a case study with Lufthansa By Julien Rio

There is nothing more frustrating in life than facing stubborn careless customer service. If you are yourself taking care of customer service, bear in mind the following rules, they might save or even improve your image.

We have all experienced this. Automatic hotlines never leading to answers, customer services ignoring us, expensive hotlines forcing you to pay to complain, emails never receiving any answer, people sending you from a department to another constantly asking you to repeat your story… bureaucracy and administration are as necessary as there are harmful to your company’s image.

Recently, I have experienced what might have been the worst customer service experience I ever had.

In this article, I will study this specific case and try to highlight what would have been the correct behavior, how this company could have saved a customer without necessarily spending money.

Lufthansa and the inexistent customer service

In early September 2012, I fly Lufthansa with my friend. We booked tickets way earlier and we are now ready to fly. The problem is: Lufthansa’s staff is on strike. As I am French, I can hardly blame Germans for being on strike: in my country, this is almost a national sport!

My flight is changed to another airline and confirmed. All good.

We fly with my friend, but starting then, nothing goes right: we can’t sit together, our flight gets late, we miss the next flight, our luggage is lost, we are sent for three hours from one counter to another, then we are asked to pay our Metro tickets by ourselves to reach a train station that might help us reach our destination… hell on earth.

A few days later, I prepare a long, polite, detailed, and well-organized email to describe my exact situation to Lufthansa’s customer service, convinced that I will get a quick and efficient answer.

After a few minutes, I receive an auto-reply:

Dear Customer,
Thank you for your email.

We will contact you with an answer to your query as soon as possible. In the meantime, your patience is highly appreciated.

Thank you for choosing Lufthansa and we look forward to serving you online and in flight.

Lufthansa Customer Service & Support Center

Great! I will receive a quick answer.

A week later, I still have nothing. I send another email, copying the original message and asking if my case is being handled. Same automatic answer.

Another week passes. I check online and find that there are several “customer service” lines for Lufthansa. I decided to try calling. This time someone answers me! And the answer is clear and precise: please send us an email………………

I send a third email asking if I can expect to receive an answer someday.

Dear Mr. Rio,

Thanks for your email.

As a complaint case, please kindly contact our Customer Relation Center at email XXXXX.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Lufthansa Customer Service & Support Center

Great, I am now redirected to another customer service center, still from Lufthansa. Could they not have redirected me in the first place? Anyway. I repeat the same procedure and re-send my email, precising this is already the third one.

Not even an auto-reply.

I leave this all story aside for a while. After a month, I send a fourth email and a fifth one, one for each customer service line. I also go on Facebook and find that Lufthansa has a page: I leave the same complaint there.

My two emails got absolutely ignored but my Facebook message is almost instantly replied to:

Hi Julien, I’m sorry to hear you still haven’t received a reply from Customer Relations. I will send them a message, asking them to get back to you as soon as possible.

Great! Finally, something happens!

Well, not really…

45 days after the initial email, I still got no answer and I lose patience. I go back on the Facebook page and check out other people’s messages: I AM NOT ALONE!

Hundreds of people in various languages are complaining the same way as I do for similar reasons.

Enough is enough: I decide to take another approach. I create a Facebook page: “Lufthansa’s disappointed customers”.

I go back on Lufthansa’s page and remind them that it has been over 45 days since my original complaint and that I have received no feedback so far. I mention my new page and invite all disappointed customers to join and share their stories.

A minute later, I receive the following message:

Hi Julien, I have contacted Customer Relations. A decision regarding your case has been made today, you will be contacted shortly.

Magic, isn’t it? You wait for 45 days and nothing is done, but the day you create a Facebook page for disappointed customers things get better!

Well… not that much actually. My case might have received a decision, but I still haven’t received any feedback.

The customer’s point of view

As a customer, what do you think about this situation?

You paid for a service. You received much lower quality of service and went through endless troubles. When you would expect to receive apologies and/or compensation, you are asked to wait.

After sending several emails and requests, after waiting for 45 days, you still get no feedback, no-one takes interest in your case. How could it be more frustrating?

The result from the customer’s perspective is obvious:

I will not fly Lufthansa again
I will spread my message and share my bad experience with people around me
For Lufthansa, this is both a customer loss and a bad advertisement.

The questions to the case study are:

1. What happened?

2. Who was involved?

3. How it happened?

4. Intervention/Action Taken?

Answer the questions in essay type. THANK YOU! Answer the questions in essay type. THANK YOU!

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