It was the best of calls; it was the worst of calls.
Recently, I received a fantastic email from Southwest Airlines…I qualify for A-List Status finally! Hallelujah! I’m not sure how that affects me as a human being, but it’s got to be good, right? Who doesn’t want to feel special, elite, appreciated?
Even though one of my daughters is a lawyer, I didn’t want to bother her to help me puzzle out the legalese that detailed what these elusive A-List benefits are to me, since she’s too busy trying to put very bad actors in prison.
So, I did the next best thing, I called Southwest’s 800 number to ask one of their friendly Customer Service Representatives to help me figure out if I am due a refund of points for a recent flight change because of my new A-List status.
My first call (the above-referenced “worst” of calls) was handled by a woman who clearly had somewhere better to be than on the phone with me trying to understand my question. She was unhelpful, rude, impatient, bordering on nasty. Her determination: no, I am not eligible for a points refund. Her solution: email corporate headquarters and complain to them, and, no, she does not have that email, I need to go on the website to hunt it down.
Disappointed by that unfriendly and poor customer service experience, I wanted to test a theory. There must be hundreds of Southwest CSRs who handle these calls, and normally they are so helpful, so why not just immediately call the 800 number again and see if I can get a more caring person.
The next rep (the “best” of calls) who picked up sounded much cheerier than the truculent original, and so I was encouraged! I explained my issue in the exact words I used 43 seconds earlier with Ms. Grumpy Pants. This CSR repeated back to me my question, assuring me she understood what I was asking. She asked a few clarifying questions, tapped a few keys on her computer and voila, we had our answer. Her determination: no, I am not eligible for a points refund. Her solution: to explain in rational detail why not, make sure I was satisfied and had complete understanding.
Why was I so happy and gratified when I didn’t actually get my points refunded as I hoped? I was heard and understood. I was treated kindly and professionally. I felt much better about Southwest after that second call and I’m glad I took the time to make it, even though I didn’t get any refund of points out of it.
These nasty and unhelpful Customer Service Reps are hiding out all over the place, in companies large and small. Somehow in our society it has become tacitly accepted to take this behavior as common practice. Until we as consumers start voicing our opinions and experiences, this will continue. Not trying to tilt at windmills, but let’s try to take a stand where we can and share our stories. Let’s make sure we compliment the good CSRs and patronize the companies who employ them. If we have a chance to call out the bad behavior, let’s do it in a rational and professional manner. The unfriendly CSRs may have issues of their own, or may just be having a bad day. If anyone has an idea on how to confront them to let them know how their actions are hurting the companies they work for, I’m all ears! And as consumers, we can make sure we are not the problem by coming in hot and being nasty ourselves.