Last week, I flew Frontier Airlines (for the 4th or 5th time), and this time, when they asked me to fill out their Customer Experience Survey, I did...
Within two days of filling out their survey, I received a dedicated response and a flight credit. It wasn't because I complained and told them how much they sucked (I did a little bit of that), but it was because I took the time to express genuine concern for ways to improve their company based on my experiences flying with them. Although it was nice to get a quick email back and a flight credit, I believe there's more reason than a voucher for writing your airline.
Surveys Are Important
When I was in college, I had a very intelligent professor for a class called Communications Research, who taught us the importance of surveying, how to put unbiased surveys together, and how to read the results and measure their significance. What I learned in that class stayed with me because he taught me why surveys are valuable, and how helpful they can be to people who are trying to study or improve something.
I don't always fill them out, but when it comes to Travel, something that I sincerely care about and want to improve, I get fired up about the idea of creating an impact, and hopefully reaching someone who is listening. Although my results might get thrown in a pile somewhere, they also might not. My best guess is that it depends on two things: the person reading it (the filter), and your ability to genuinely and effectively articulate your experience and how it could be improved.
I'm always making note of things that cold be improved upon in my life and the world around me- and I'm probably hyper-sensitive to the possibilities when it comes to Travel. So, when I flew Frontier for the 4th or 5th time last week, the suggestions in my head continued to pile up and build upon my previous experiences flying with them. When they sent me that Customer Service Survey as they always do, this time I decided to fill it out.
As I mentioned above, It only took about two days before I received a personal response and a somewhat-meager-but-good-gesture of a flight credit valuing $25. This may not be much- but it's something, especially for an "Ultra Low-Cost Carrier" whose business plan is literally to nickel and dime everyone. The real reward, however, was not in the $25 voucher, but in the message that showed they are listening, taking my suggestions into consideration, and actively trying to improve. In the end, isn't this what we really want for our money?
If you write a bigger, and potentially more expensive airline, they might issue you a voucher for a much larger amount as a reward for your feedback. But let's face it- we're probably not going to receive a voucher every time we express our concerns. Let's take a look at the bigger picture here...
Supply and Demand
What we really want as travelers is to get the best possible flight experience for the lowest price possible. The current market and its offerings exist today because of supply and demand. What most people fail to realize, is that they have the ability to directly influence supply and demand. Why should an airline offer free water, a checked bag, and little to no customer service, if their clients never express a desire for their dollar to go a little further?
Make no mistake- the ownership group of an airline company is raking money into piles in their backyards- perhaps literally- with a rake. They most certainly earned their respective positions within the company because of their financial and market savvy. Thus, I'm sure that tucked into the essence of their business plans, are widespread goals to profit as much as possible- and their teams of business savvy individuals are paid precisely to find ways to widen that gap as far as possible.
The results? The owners win with increased profit, the business savvy individual wins via a raise for putting more money in his boss's pocket, and the consumer loses because less of their fare is going to their own comfort and perks of flying with said airline. But if the consumer demands a better experience, and (intelligently) speaks up for what value their fare should be worth, then said airline must supply it, otherwise starts the downward spiral of dissatisfied and eventually lost customers.
What I'm getting at here is that your feedback is not just valuable for the airlines, it's essential for your wallet and the the Travel industry as a whole!
How I Did It
If I've convinced you that writing the airlines is important for the good of all travelers out there, and not just for the flight voucher, allow me to offer some sage advice in writing technique. I may not be as "Cassanova" as some of you out there, but I've definitely made note of some effective and ineffective methods in persuasion- and it wouldn't hurt your chances of scoring some bonus bucks either.
1. Write with good intention.
Remember the goal here- to improve the travel experience as a whole, namely your own. This means don't make up shit to complain about in hopes of getting flight voucher. It also means don't exaggerate your experience for the same purpose. Rather, deliver your arguments with an irrefutable logic that benefits you, them, and their client base.
2. Use the ole "Sandwich Technique."
Nobody likes being talked down to or spoken to in a condescending manner. Speaking like this or making threats doesn't make anybody feel good, and so it should be avoided. Start off with what you liked about your experience before delving into what you didn't, and don't forget to reiterate both in your closing paragraph.
Imagine you are talking to your friend or your parents or your boss, and think about how you would approach a conversation with someone when you want to see your side of the story. If they see your point, and believe in the same things you do, "The Filter" is more likely to pass on your recommendations to whoever is listening.
3. Write intelligently.
When you write with intelligence- that is to say- with (at least) decent grammar, including organized, complete thoughts, punctuation, and sans ridicule, you're more likely to be taken seriously. You don't have to be Ernest Freaking Hemingway to write a short essay about your experience with focus and class. Who knows- they might even take you as someone who has experience and ideas good enough to move their team forward!
If you were making the decisions to "right the customer service ship" would you dole out vouchers to someone whose perspective and insight you genuinely appreciated? Or the person cursing at you telling you how much you suck? I know some people get away with it, but don't be that person. That person doesn't deserve to be rewarded, and generally offers nothing of value to improve society.
To give you an example of what I wrote, I thought I'd share with you the letter I wrote to Frontier, incase you'd like to use it as reference or inspiration, or you're just curious...
Dec. 13, 2016
To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to start out by saying that I very much appreciate Frontier's recent change that allows me to participate in TSA PreCheck. As a Global Entry member, I found myself avoiding Frontier flights before that was the case. And, I've found the Flight Attendants and Pilots to be friendly for the most part. I also appreciate the occasional very affordable flight deals, and the number of them that are direct flights. That being said, there are several ways I believe Frontier can improve.
Firstly, flying to more destinations would be a great thing, although I'm sure you're working on that.
Secondly, I understand the limitations of a low-cost-carrier, but I still think there needs to be improvements in regards to seating and comfort, especially if one purchases the "Stretch Seating" option. They're just not that comfortable. I had a front row seat on yesterday's flight, and my lower back still hurts today- and I'm a 33-year old, active male in pretty good shape. My feet were also remarkably cold on both trips, despite wearing shoes, just from touching the floor.
I probably wouldn't fly Frontier anymore if it weren't for the extra-room seats after my experience flying in the regular coach section, which feels no different than flying Spirit (the worst). Those seats were uncomfortable, cramped, no monitor to distract myself from the flight, and a couple times I became nervous that I wouldn't make it to the bathroom in time due to the excessively long lines in the aisles (not exactly sure how to fix the latter).
By the way, water should always, always, always be free.
Furthermore, I must mention the poor customer service kiosk at your home location (where I'd think one would put their best foot forward) in Denver.
I had some time to kill before my flight recently and went to the customer service counter because I noticed that my Frequent Flyer Rewards number had not populated on my ticket. I was unable to add it, or find it in my email, despite finding the reservations in my email, and having a Frontier Airlines rewards card sent to me in the past. I was hoping the customer service agent could help me link my email account and flight history with my login information to help me avoid this in the future, and hopefully fly Frontier enough to earn a rewards flight.
The young lady there, who did not greet me at all, nor did she look like she was happy/eager to assist me, was not able to offer me any solution whatsoever. She literally shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly told me she had no clue how to help me figure it out. If Frontier’s Customer Service in their home airport can't figure out how to help me find my Frontier Frequent Flyer number, and also shows zero capacity to see why that would be a valuable thing for me and their company, than why should I feel motivated to fly or recommend Frontier?
I wanted to blame the agent initially, but in reality, the responsibility lies within the company for not hiring and/or training the proper employees with a strong desire to be in the customer service industry. I was very kind to the young lady, but quickly dismissed myself once I realized I was wasting my time, and internally shook my head at Frontier. Please do better here. The best companies, the ones that grow steadily with a loyal following, are the ones with the best customer service, affordable or not.
In regards to check-in at the airport... my only comment here is that I almost always have a hard time finding out where the Frontier check-in desk is hiding. I'm sure that's because the airline is a bit smaller still in comparison to others, but this can be frustrating with bags in hand. Perhaps some signage can be arranged to help us find it? Or maybe an email update with its location once that is determined.
The on-board experience has mostly been mentioned above, and I’d like to reiterate that I find the pilots and flight attendants to be overall pleasant, with few exceptions in my experience so far. Other note are as follows…
The pitch for the Frontier Airlines credit card is a little intrusive and long at times over the (very) loudspeaker. Also, the overhead luggage situation for those people sitting in the front two rows can be a little obnoxious. I understand that the fire emergency equipment takes up the first bins, but with this in mind, it would be helpful if the flight attendants could help to make sure we can get our bags first, so as not to hold up the line, or be stuck in our seats because hasty passengers sitting further back don't have the courtesy or wherewithal to allow us to go one row back to where we were instructed our luggage must go.
I know it sounds like a lot of complaining, and some issues are more petty than others. I can imagine someone reading this muttering the phrase "first-world problems" under their breath- and I get it. But, you asked for my input on how you could improve and work towards providing the best experience possible, and in my humble opinion, it's attention to details like these that set companies apart from their peers.
I understand that no one is perfect, and I'd also like to add that I don't expect perfection. I'm not much of an outward complainer, and I usually think all of these thoughts in my head, let it be, and go on with my day. However, I do make note these things, and it does affect my decisions when I look into making a purchase. I encourage you to take action toward the recommendations and remarks above. I'd like to continue flying Frontier, and I'd like even more to start recommending it with enthusiasm.
Hello John Hunt,
Thank you for contacting us in Customer Relations regarding your recent experience with us. We are a company that is growing incredibly fast and appreciate feedback from customers like you, this will help us improve tremendously.
I'm sorry to hear that your experience with us wasn't as expected. Your description of of the lack of knowledge, uncomfortable seats, refreshment services, check-in, and credit card pitch is concerning and I can only assure you this is not the type of service we strive to provide. I'm sorry that happened to you.
Customer Service is Key
Frontier has a hard earned reputation of providing excellent customer service and it’s disappointing when we receive reports of anything less than that. Nevertheless, I am grateful you brought this to our attention. I have logged your concerns regarding the agent who you asked for assistance, with their supervisor. So they can take appropriate measures to ensure your experience is not repeated.
I have also issued you a $25 voucher (XXXXXXXXXXXX) for the customer service you experienced. This voucher must be redeemed by March 14, 2017, but you do not have to fly by then. You can book travel out as far as our calendar will allow.
I have also logged all of your feedback with our Senior Leadership Team for review. I hope that in the future we can better accommodate your needs.
I apologize again and highly encourage you to give us the chance to impress you on your next flight. I'm confident your next experience with us will be a good one!
Hopefully this article has inspired you to write your airlines. It really is up to "we the people" to let them know what we deserve! You can make an impact! If you don't believe me- just take a look at the Lakota Native Americans, and their recent victory in Dakota.
Have you been successful in writing the airlines in the past? I'd love to hear your stories and feedback in the comments below! And if you enjoyed the article, don't forget to subscribe to the blog so you don't miss the next one! :)