Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Lufthansa Does Not Care About Its Customers

It seems that still today there are some companies who view customer service as a one-off transaction and who believe that "Customer in not our boss". Like in the recent case of the Czech Lufthansa subsidiary.

Living in Germany for several years, often flying back and forth to Prague, I was loyal frequent flyer customer of Lufthansa, the German airlines Company I had always fully trusted. One day this March I have got a call from a Lufthansa customer service operator to check if my frequent flyer stored data are up-to-date. Next day my credit card was charged with cancellation fee for a flight ticket issued in my name last year that I have not been aware of, I have never booked or paid for. Lufthansa claimed afterwards that because the ordering person identity does not exist anymore, someone has to pay. I have to pay. Because the name and frequent flyer number match.

This real-life story leaves a lot of unanswered questions behind, like: Why does Lufthansa solve their financial claims 12 months after they occur, in a different fiscal year and with a wrong person? Where the rest of the flight tickets money ended, when the ordering person is after one year untraceable? Do we all have to start to worry, that somebody from now on uses our names and frequent flyer data and we will be obliged to pay for cancellation fees of flight tickets we have no idea about?

I have asked Lufthansa Czech exactly these questions (by e-mail and registered letter). Until now, being it already four months, I have not received their answer to my worries. I have only got e-mail talking about standard procedures, no apology, no interest.

This case shows ignorance of ethics. The Czech Lufthansa team was putting the total Company reputation and trust in the bin, all because of 820 (ca 50 USD), that in the end Lufthansa anyhow never obtained from me, because my UniCredit Bank was able to dispute and stop this transaction based on no rights for this claim from the Lufthansa side.

This case shows ignorance of business sense. As my loyalty to Lufthansa has been vanished, Lufthansa has lost tens of thousands Crowns or even Euro. The amount of money I and my close family and friends would pay them for flight tickets for our entire lives. Lifetime value of a customer is what matters. Not a one-off shot.

This case shows the mother Company can operate efficiently and ethically in the home country, but not having invested in small countries in staff training and check-ups, the whole case can backfire and influence the mother as well.

Cases of mistreating customers are unfortunately common all over the world. However thanks to the rise of social media, they are not anymore secrets. They spread out really fast. The Companies can either infuse proper customer service attitude among ALL staff, or they pay much more money for reputation tracking and firefighting.

The decision is theirs.

No comments:

Post a Comment