A Lesson From Expedia On Sales Chutzpah
OK, we all have bad customer service experiences. I get it. But when the bad experiences go across four Expedia service phone conversations (that lasted about three plus hours over two days) and another six back and forth Twitter direct tweets and the customer who is spending over $5,000 on the trip is still unsatisfied (that’s me), there must be something wrong with how Expedia runs the humanbeing (vs. digital) sales service side of its business.
No, This Post Is Not About Expedia. It Is About Your Ad, PR, Digital, etc. Agency
Stick with me because this blog post is actually about a way to grow your agency – a way that requires a bit of chutzpah. However, before I get to your agency and an unignorable sales tactic, I have to share a tiny bit of customer service related background to set up the chutzpah recommendation.
A few weeks ago, I used Expedia to book two tickets from Mexico City to Budapest for a summer trip to see the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix race. This week, I called Expedia to change the trip by adding a few days up front and move the original first destination from Budapest to Vienna. I knew about and was willing to spend the extra $500 flight change charge and, before I called, I had also looked at all of the available flight options. I was prepared for the service rep call. But, I was not prepared for the following:
Expedia’s phone system could never recognize my itinerary number or phone number (the ones that are listed on Expedia’s original flight plan document). I knew I was in the system because when I finally got to a rep, she recognized the numbers. What’s up with Expedia’s automated phone system and the interface with its database?
While it took me about 30 seconds to get to the Iberia Airlines and Expedia sites to find my reservation detail, it took the multiple Expedia reps I talked to at around two minutes.
I was repeatedly asked if Mexico City was my origination airport (I live in Mexico) and if I was to change flights in Madrid as stated on my reservation. Um, yes.
The reps took forever to find alternative flights although I was helping them find the alternatives. And on. I won’t bore you with more including the third rep who apologized for how sloooooow Expedia’s computer was working.
Taken individually, these don’t appear to be too onerous. However, in aggregate, they were and I gave up without making the flight change.
OK, two more points.
I was so pissed off that I sent LinkedIn InMails to three Expedia marketing execs gently complaining about the service and asking them if they ever sat in on customer calls – consider this action an internal “Store-Check”. It’s been four days since I sent the emails. Any response? No. Sure these folks get lots of emails. But, I used attention-getting customer-centric subject lines.