In the other person’s shoes

July 09, 2012

Management and I kissed our daughter Georgie goodbye on Saturday morning as she boarded the Oman Air flight to the Maldives to meet some friends for a holiday. Around 2pm my phone rang, and it was an upset Georgie.

“We took off as planned but after an hour we turned back due to some technical problem,” she explained. “I am now back in Muscat and no one is telling me anything.”

Both Management and I were on our phones immediately. I couldn’t get a reply from either of the helpline numbers I had, so I called reservations, and got through to someone who transferred me to her supervisor, who could look at the news feed.

“The plane is back in Muscat,” he explained, “There was a technical problem.” “Ah yes indeed,” I replied, “But what is happening?” “All I can tell you is that she is back in Muscat and I am told to tell you to call back after one and a half hours.”

Management had a little more luck, customer service answered her call, but the person there told her to call flight information, and the person there told her to call customer service.

“All I want to know is whether the flight will leave today, otherwise Georgie can come home for the night,”explained Management. “Don’t worry about that,” came the reply, “If the plane doesn’t fly today, we will find a hotel room for your daughter.” We gave up trying to find out any more.

Several weeks ago I had a senior moment and forgot to retrieve my bank debit card from the ATM machine. Luckily I realised it soon thereafter, called the bank, and whilst the card had gone missing, my account was secure. I ordered a new card. I have now been waiting over two weeks for Aramex to bring it to me.

“Please deliver the card to my office above KFC in Al Madina Plaza,” I asked when contacted by the courier. “I am coming,” is the reply I have heard several times now.

On the last occasion, the promise was to be at my office at 9am. At 6.10pm I received a call. “I had to go to Seeb this morning,” he said, “but I am at your office now.”

I was at home watching the tennis. I have now given up, asked the bank to take delivery of my card and I will pick it up from the branch. 

All of us understand the paramount important of airline safety, and Oman Air has done a great job in improving the fleet of planes and offerings. But why were the call centre personnel not better briefed?

Surely the company management could have come up with a plan whilst the plane was being routed back to Muscat? And all of us also understand the need for bank cards to be delivered securely, but surely this can be done rather quicker?

We all know that things go wrong, so my plea is to be treated like a human being and be given an explanation. Lesson one in providing good customer service is to put oneself 'in the other person’s shoes.' Understand what the customer is concerned about and try to respond accordingly.

And do you know the worst thing of all? Not a single person said sorry. This demonstrates to me the need, and therefore opportunity, for better quality training for the expanding numbers of those who represent their businesses on the front line. This training cannot happen soon enough.

Georgie made it to her island late on Saturday night, and I hope to pick up my bank card in the next day or two….