I am a customer of Westjet. I like the informal, service-oriented approach. I like when Westjet talks about owners caring. I’ve always had that kind of brand experience with Westjet.
I’ve in the middle of a frustrating and disappointing customer experience and it has changed my impression of this company – not for the better.
Here’s what has transpired so far:
1. Bought tickets online about a week ago and noticed when checking out that a previous flight credit was not appearing. Bought the tickets anyway thinking I could sort it out later.
2. Called to sort it out and learned that the flight credit didn’t display since my online order included other travelers. Something about security? Whatever. It would have been nice if the web interface explained that at the point of sale rather than making it appear as if the credit had vaporized.
3. First Westjet call centre agent agreed to reverse ticket charge, apply credit and charge me difference. OK, let’s do it. However, my VISA card was rejected. Then my Mastercard. And then even my Amex. Wow, that’s weird. Implausible that all my cards have problems – must be something on your end. Nope, she says, nothing wrong here. We agree that she would start a technical ticket and I would call back the next day.
4. Second call to Westjet call centre the following day and I explain the whole situation. Again, we try the VISA card and again it fails. So weird. I hang up to contact VISA and verify the account status.
5. VISA reports all is fine with the account.
6. Third call to Westjet. Again, I explain the situation and ask to be escalated. Several minutes later I am speaking to Tanya #13554 in “customer recovery” who clarifies quickly that the reason the transaction was failing was because the cards I was trying to use were not the same as the original VISA card. Not unreasonable. (Of course, that’s my wife’s card and I don’t have it with me – so yet another call will be needed.) But why did two other call centre agents fail to tell me that? Why did one of them suggest I should call VISA? So I ask Tanya: “Is this the kind of customer experience that is normal at Westjet?” She doesn’t like my tone and starts getting angry with me. Yeah, right. The “customer recovery” person is getting angry with the customer that needs to be recovered. She accuses me of asking for something free to “compensate” my poor customer experience. I ask to speak to her supervisor, she says there is no one to talk to. I ask her to identify herself and if she has a supervisor. Increasingly angry with me, she refuses to pass me on. So I hang up. Frustrated.
So, three calls in and considerable time wasted with two polite but poorly-informed call centre staff and one impolite but well-informed escalation staff, I have learned what I need to do in order to get my $550 credit applied to my Westjet flight so I can pay the difference with my credit card.
Now, it seems to me that I’m helping Westjet here – not hurting them. I am a declared brand supporter. And I have identified several areas where they can improve upon their customer experience – and probably salvage some customers down the road.
They could be paying high-priced consultants to study their system – maybe even do some “mystery shopping” – to get the same insights that I am providing for free. In fact, I’m doing this work for Westjet on my own dime, when you consider the time and energy that went into the above interactions with their call centre staff and composing this post. You’re welcome, Westjet.
So, is it so outrageous to expect Westjet to see it my way, to see some inherent value here and offer some compensation?
How you answer that question is key to how well you understand the shifting power balance between smart brands and their customers.
I have faith, Westjet, that you’ll do the right thing.
I am not in any way embellishing for dramatic effect, but literally as I was typing the final line about keeping the faith…my phone rang. It was Kim #12402 from Westjet. She was calling because Tanya #13554 had emailed asking her to contact me. The problem was resolved in a matter of minutes.
Now, Westjet…where should I send the invoice?