Some policies are bad for customer service

I recently had the opportunity to fly an airline that charges baggage fees (I try to avoid this by flying Southwest whenever possible). I understand that it is difficult for a for-profit company to turn its back on potential revenue, but charging for bags is a practice that is at best, broken.

Here’s why:

When people don’t want to do something, they often find a way around it or avoid it altogether (by flying another airline, for example!). When people don’t want to pay for their bags, they try to carry-on as much as possible. This leads to overstuffed overhead compartments, which leads to a slower boarding process and cranky travelers.

The airlines know this, so their solution to speed up boarding and save overhead space is to check your carry-on bags at the gate – for free. Savvy travelers have figured this out, so they just bring their luggage to the gate to check it for free.

If this wasn’t enough to want to fix the problem, you now have the rule-abiding flyers who dutifully paid for their bags at the ticket counter or online, seeing other travelers getting to check their bags for free. Why the inconsistency?? Maybe next time they’ll bring their bags through security, too!

This has an impact on the airline employees, too, because now they have to explain why some people have to pay and others don’t. That takes time and causes frustration. Not the best idea for building a customer service culture. I asked a ticket agent about this on my return flight, and he just blankly stared at me and said, “luckily I don’t work the gate very often, so I don’t have to deal with it.” That’s nice.

So why do airlines still charge for bags considering all these negative outcomes? I’ll let you come to your own conclusion, but the bigger question to ask yourself is this:

Does my company have any policies or practices that create such inconsistent service and frustrating situations for my guests and employees?

If you are not sure, just ask your guests and employees.  They’ll know.

Thanks for reading!


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2 thoughts on “Some policies are bad for customer service

  1. Boy, did you ever nail it! Thanks for letting a lot of us know we aren’t the only ones who tire of those who flaunt the system or feel all rules and laws are made for others, not them.Did you happen to catch Steve Hartman’s (CBS) segment on a postal employee in Conn.?He has a line at his post office with customers just waiting to see him. He is one of those oersons who “get it.”How does he do it?He takes a moment to chat, smile and make eye contact. I told my husband, that’s what I tried to train for years– it is so simple and easy yet many of oue employees, and their bosses just don’t get it.Thanks for letting me vent.Again, keep up the great work.

    Donna Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013 20:10:17 +0000 To:

    • Thanks, Donna! No, I didn’t see that CBS piece, but it’s not hard to imagine a good service provider in any environment building up a loyal following!

      Thanks for sharing, Donna!

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