Don't Treat Flexanimous Customers Like Airlines Do

Haha! What a big word in my title there. I only just found it online. I was surfing for an alternative to ‘changing your mind’. And wasn’t keen on adapting either of the political anorak coined terms like the English ‘u-turner’ the Americanism of ‘flip-flopping’.

Customers can change their mind. A lot. I’m often a customer of airlines.

They frustrate the hell out of me. So many times you wonder why their touted customer service cultures are in reality valleys of void.

So, not for the first time, I wanted to alter a return part of my flight ticket. I was travelling back to Blighty later than originally planned.

I had, in effect, changed my mind.

So. How do the airlines treat this?

Well. Ever since I first did this back in the 90s, the cost of doing so has remained in the same region. A decade ago I recall stumping up USD150. Today it was GBP100.

Yet in the here and now, I also got lumbered with an admin fee. How on earth is this not included in the first costing? Even more galling because you don’t pay two separate people. It’s one bill at the end. In my case here, this whacked an annoying EUR15 on top.

Then there was the exchange rate profiteering. Both the pound and euro where converted into local currency at a rate that even a bank would wince at charging their clients at the exchange booth. Well over the old-style 3% markup.

But that wasn’t all. Perhaps my biggest kick in the teeth was how the alteration charging was presented to me.

It was a Penalty.

Yes. For a being a customer that changed their mind, I was being penalised.

Incredible language. I asked the lady at the computer where that word came from. It was, apparently, her correct term.

Now I, like most frequent flyers I’m sure, expect to pay when switching flights half-way through an itinerary (even if the logic of this escapes me). But to be slapped on the wrist by being told to pay a penalty? That cannot be right.

Yet how easy would it be to make this more humane. To at the very least, make the decision less hurtful.

Many other sectors have softer terms for ‘spec creep’, where adding to a project incurs more charges commensurate with the extra resource needed.

I remember a telcoms industry approach to this. Pronounced em-ay-seas. It stood for modifications, additions, and changes (aka, mods adds changes). You’d see an invoice line that simply read MACs.

So why do the airlines lag in the dark ages?

Well, forget them maybe. More importantly what about your clients?

When they demonstrate their ability to be flexanimous, are you making them feel penalised, or supported?

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