Sunday, January 13, 2008

Midwest Complaint: Final Resolution and lessons all around

Our story draws to a close and has a very happy ending. I'm satisifed
with Midwest's resolution to my problems on my recent flight. While
they couldn't comment on human resource issues, I suspect the 28,000
people who read my complaint put some gentle pressure on Midwest to
fix a personnel issue that they knew was a problem.

What about that "free voucher?" Good question. I didn't get that,
but I didn't necessarily want it. It was a way of negotiating. I was
a bit disappointed at the lack of creativity shown by Midwest to come
up with an interesting solution. Per their request, I'm letting
everyone know that they didn't offically revoke that $25 voucher.
However, since they didn't mention it when denying my free voucher
request, and based on past behavior, I assumed it was off the table.

I've been on both sides of customer service situations, and the key is
to figure out what the customer wants rather than offer a boilerplate
solution. It's about listening and asking questions. When your meal
comes out wrong at a restaurant, being offered dessert when you are on
a diet adds insult to injury. My father taught me a lesson early on
in my life on how to handle any complaint, personal or professional:
"What can I do to make this right?" Let the customer come up with the

I was never asked that question, so I proposed it. Just give me the
exit row on the next flight. Though it's reserved for elite flyers of
Midwest, I think it's fair compensation since I came early to that
flight and was denied. I suspect that was even cheaper to Midwest
than any kind of voucher and it made me very happy. I don't have to
arrive three hours early for my next flight and can keep my knees from
banging the person in front. Sometimes, the simpliest solutions are
most elegant and are directly tied into the problem. My complaint
wasn't about the cost of the flight, so why give me a discount?

The happiest part of the ending is obviously the Internet. That
customer you treat poorly could start a virtual frenzy. If you are in
customer service, then provide service to your customers. Plain.
Simple. Elegant.