Atlanta-based carrier Delta has not exactly been at the forefront of the customer service scene. In fact, the airline has frequently scored at the bottom of the customer service spectrum in more than one evaluation. Since the airline industry, like any other industry today, finds its competitive edge in the service department, Delta decided to do something about the problem – and with strong results.
Money Put to Good Use: Customer Service!
In 2010, the New York Daily News reported on Delta’s plans to invest significantly into its customer service – $1 billion over the next three years. The money would be allocated towards improving the interior of the airplanes, adding upgraded seats and lighting to cabins, and including in-seat audio and video options. The airline also planned to add more comfortable seating for international flights and VIP lounges in some airports around the country.
This type of commitment to service may be mostly aesthetic, but in theory, the focus on customer service could trickle down to the employees working directly with the customers as well. One thing was certain – Delta needed to make big changes in the face of ongoing customer complaints ranging from the reservation system to the airport staff and flight schedules. Would the airline’s pumping money into the service end of the business have the desired effect?
Customer Service Sees an Uptick
Earlier this year, reports seemed to indicate that Delta’s efforts were hitting the mark. A report in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal indicated that Delta had earned the sixth spot out in the 2012 Airline Quality Ratings. The ranking was based on baggage handling, on-time schedules and customer complaints, among other factors. That ranking bumped Delta up one spot from the previous year, indicating the airline may indeed be on a customer service uptick.
Recently, Delta Airlines earned another notch in its customer service belt. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that the Atlanta-based carrier earned the fourth spot in the Air Travel Consumer Report put out by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Like the previous ranking, this report looked at variables like customer service quality, mishandled baggage and on-time departures and arrivals. Delta was fourth out of 18 carriers for on-time scheduling, fifth for baggage handling, and seventh for customer service.
Still Work to Do
Delta may be showing signs of bringing their customer service up a notch, but it still has some work to do. A recent report in eTurbo News cited problems at the airlines with charging different fares to frequent flyer travelers and those that did not have frequent traveler miles. In fact, the Consumer Travel Alliance and the Business Travel Coalition both denounced Delta’s practice of inconsistent pricing. Delta called the discrepancy a computer error, but that failed to satisfy many of their customers or consumer watchdog organizations that called for a revamp of Delta’s pricing policies.
Still, Delta’s new found focus on customer service appears to be paying off. When companies begin to see themselves from the customers’ points of view, a higher level of customer service – and customer satisfaction – is sure to follow.