Home > india, travel > Customer Service 101 Mr. Mallya – Kingfisher ain’t 5 star yet!!

Customer Service 101 Mr. Mallya – Kingfisher ain’t 5 star yet!!


Now then, I am not one to blog every small delay or bad experience with an airline – God knows I have had a handful to write about in the 250K odd miles I have travelled over the last couple years. This one is interesting – with the media blitz that Kingfisher has created, especially after getting to be crowned as 5 star, you expect a certain quality of experience, a better treatment from an empowered set of employees – yet, they fall apart when it comes to delivery.

We booked Kingfisher because they flew out of coimbatore at 8:40 & arrived at 9:40 PM in Bangalore (BLR). I had worked out that would allow me sufficient time to drop my wife at Malleswaram, pick up my luggage & head back to the airport for my trip to Shanghai. Now, I get that airlines are sometimes delayed a bit – in fact, they often are – so, my plan would work even if I had a two hour delay.

On our way to Kerala the day before, I get a call & the person announces that Kingfisher has now changed the time of the flight to 10:30 PM and if I had any issues with it, I could cancel and be reimbursed the full fare – the trouble with this option is, my travel need doesn’t change because KF has changed their time. I still need to get back to BLR & need to do so at a reasonable time. I asked the gentleman if he can help re-route/ re-schedule me & he said I need to call the call center and after a couple more questions, I realized that was going to be the standard canned response I was going  to be doled out. and by the way, surprise surprise, the prices on all the other airlines for this route, which isn’t very frequented has soared, given this is the day before.

Ok – so, we try to call the call center – keep getting the busy signal until 4 AM when I reached Mr. Pravin Kumar of (probably) the Bangalore call center. He suggested I could either fly at 11 AM the same day or fly their newly rescheduled time of 10:30 PM. On asking to be rescheduled via another airline or route, I received the response that was not an option he had. Upone asking to speak to his manager, the response was none was available and that they would have the same options as well. This is a bit strange – for an airline touting to be the best; even china Eastern Airlines, with its appalling & falling apart planes courteously have rescheduled me on to alternate airlines without even my having to request the change – now China Eastern is bottom of the barrel, when it comes to airline quality. When saying this is a problem and explaining to the agent this was an issue, he neither had the interest/ care, the authority to make a different decision and wasn’t inclined to escalate either.

Ok – we show up at the airport. Go to the check-in counter & were advised that the plane was further delayed by another 30 min. Obviously, I am not a happy camper at this stage in the game – I asked to speak to the manager. While I understand Mr C. Vinod, supervisor of Kingfisher’s operations in Coimbatore had little choice at the moment, his manner of dealing with the situation can only be characterized as strange & not exemplary of an organization that claims to be customer friendly! He goes on to pontificate that this is normal in airline operations and that this wasn’t his problem. The exact words he chose were “this isn’t my fault” – which is what infuriates me. At occasions such as these, most customers, including myself want someone who can simply sympathize and accept a mistake on part of the organization and offer some compensation – a taxi fare, perhaps because I am going to have to hurry back & forth in Bangalore. It doesn’t matter whether there is a compensation or not – what infuriates me is that none of the three employees thought that this traveler’s problem was theirs. Ideally, the organization should have empowered the first two to find an alternate solution that is acceptable to their customer – granted, this comes at a cost.  The benefit would be that of winning a likely loyal customer – in my case, one who travels quite a bit & does appreciate and can discern between the incredibly awesome customer service of Cathay/ Dragon Air and the likes of Air India.

Mr. Vinod, in Coimbatore is the figure head and at the interaction point of the customer and should have been empowered to speak on behalf of the organization and not just himself. If he doesn’t feel it is his responsibility to apologize to the customer, whose is it? Unfortunately, Mr. Vinod also refused to let me escalate the issue to his manager – the entire affair lets me rethink choosing KF for these short hauls which are at such risk as they are relatively less traveled & hence likely less profitable.

I do write this as an open letter/ critique of KF’s customer service. I expect no response though –

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Categories: india, travel
  1. aseemrastogi2
    November 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I am really wondering whether the 5 star status has got to their heads! And you know what my torture didn’t just end with starting the journey; it continued beyond with tortrous delays 😦

  2. Kameswaran
    November 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Krishna You will not believe the KF in-flight attendants rude behavior. On my flight frm Chennai-pun last month a flight attendant patted on a ladys back to wake her up ( who was visibly very tired and dozed off after boarding the flight ) . Her co-passengers(incldng me ) told the young attendant that the lady is fast asleep and not to wake her.The attendant patted the lady woke her up and said in a stern voice ” ma’am the flight is ready for take off please do not sleep” and he mumbled this word ” dumbo ” : ..can u believe this.My co-passenger , an elderly man was very much infuriated . I mean for a brand like KF this is very very unhealty. And when i complained on their twitter page they said they will see what they can do. I want KF stewards to learn some basic discipline. Indigo is the best for these services. My roommate Aseem rastogi was made to suffer because of a cancelled flight. In the end he had to do a 17 hour trip to be on time to attend his cousins marriage. KF is the worst airline i would say

    • krishnashrinivas
      November 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm

      you know what I have actually seen a similar incident like this too – don’t quite remember which airline though. Some sort of stupid rule says that you need to be awake when the plane takes off. I don’t think its a rule as much as it is poor training – regardless, I think the challenge these airlines have is in recruiting, training & retaining good talent – given the competition, I am sure the good ones keep switching jobs.

  1. November 2, 2010 at 3:33 am

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