Tuesday, January 29, 2013

American Airlines Responds - Sorta

Image courtesy of delmarvablogger
After a Twitter exchange with, and an email from, American Airlines, I still feel like their rebranding, er, modernization, is lipstick on a pig.

I wrote a blog post last week about my thoughts on the American Airlines rebranding, which seemed to merely consist of a paint job, with nothing substantial beneath the surface with regards to the people experience, i.e., employees or customers. When I tweeted my post, I got a response from American. Sorta.

The image below shows the Twitter exchange I had with the Social Media Team at American Airlines. I must say, that team has stepped up its game. (See this interview with the @AmericanAir Team on Skift for more details about how they are handling customer service on social media.) Just a few minutes after I tweeted, they responded to me. Here's our exchange on Twitter.

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In the last tweet, they asked me to DM my email address so that they could send me more details.  I was excited to see if they would lift the hood and tell me something that would make me feel like they got it.

The image below is the email I received. Judge for yourself. It's a party line document, probably from some internal presentation or memo (notice the "see lower right quadrant" reference after second bullet point - I don't know what that refers to) that doesn't really give me anything more than we've already seen or heard in the press. So I wrote back, asking for more. I probed for specific details on "people stuff," i.e., the things I referenced in my post last week. That was 6 days ago; I haven't received a response yet. I'm not holding my breath.
 
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Kudos to the @AmericanAir team for being polite, responsive, and doing the best with the information they have. Shame on the executives for not being more transparent with both employees and customers about what really matters: how this impacts the employee and the customer experiences, if it does at all. The fact that they haven't shared more details (and the fact that it's not in their bullet points above) tells me that they really believe a fresh coat of paint will fix everything.

Silly me! They actually did focus on their employees. The latest on the rebrand is that the flight attendants will be getting new, designer uniforms. Ah... more lipstick...

By changing nothing, nothing changes. -Tony Robbins

10 comments:

  1. If they are making improvements, wouldn't they want it said in public for applause to ensue?

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    1. Thanks, Michele. That's what I'm thinkin'! And that's pretty much what I said in my follow-up email to them. Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog post... I did get a response today!

      Annette :-)

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  2. I'm enjoying your commentary on American Airlines and think you are right on target in how they need to improve. Last August, I published a blog post explaining why I was rooting for American Airlines to turn things around and provide a better product. Of course, I also mentioned my plans to fly Southwest Airlines to Dallas instead of American even though American flew direct.

    Here's a link to my post:
    http://www.toistersolutions.com/blog/2012/8/20/why-im-rooting-for-american-airlines-to-improve-service.html

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    1. Thanks, Jeff, for commenting and for sharing your post. Five months later, are you feeling any differently about the service they offer?

      I'm going to put a note on my calendar, and a year from now, I'd like to see where they land in the WSJ rankings. Should be interesting.

      Annette :-)

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    2. Yes and No. I flew American last October, which was not my choice, but a client was booking that flight. My travel was significantly delayed because American's pilots were engaging in a work slowdown. I know that American's struggles have had a huge impact on their employees, but their pilots crossed the line by taking out their frustrations on their customers in such an organized and deliberate fashion.

      I also flew American a few weeks ago. This time it was my choice due to price and convenience. I was also able to earn Alaska Airlines miles on the flight, a bonus since Alaska is my new favorite airline. This experience was much better. Smooth flying with friendly crews. I even had to call customer service and they were helpful and cheerful.

      I'll be flying American again in a few weeks, again due to price, convenience, and Alaska miles, so we'll see. I have my fingers crossed!

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    3. Interesting. Hopefully it continues to go smoothly. Consistency is key, right?

      Annette :-)

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  3. Annette

    I think you nail the issue perfectly in your post. Kudos to the social media team for doing the best they have with what they have got. Shame on the management team for not giving them what they need to work with.

    Your post provoked a couple of thoughts:

    1. Is it just the social media team who don't have what they need to do the job properly or is it a company wide issue
    2. How does it feel to be in a position when your managers don't give you what you need to do the job?

    Love the picture

    James

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    1. Thanks, James. Those are two great questions. Check today's blog post, and I think that will answer your first question. Apparently, it's a widespread issue. Either their subject-matter experts have no clue either, or they love to stick to the party line and skirt the questions.

      BTW, I think it's one of my fav pictures, so far!

      Annette :-)

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  4. Hi Annette,
    Their response for me implies two things:
    1. They think their experience is ok as it is; or
    2. They don't care enough to change it OR they think it's too hard to change and are just going to muddle along until it becomes someone else's problem.

    Which one do you think it is?

    Adrian

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    1. Adrian,

      Unfortunately, I think it's all of the above.

      Annette :-)

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