American Airlines thinks the solution to their customer service woes is a web form that limits submissions to 1,500 characters. Each submission gets a tracking number, which American Airlines executives mistake for a resolution. From the Star-Telegram:
“We don’t have a customer-relations phone number. We haven’t for several years because we found out it wasn’t a great process. Customers call and they have complaints and they get worked up. They’d call into reservations. Or they write to our executives. They fax. They do this and that.”
Web-based complaint forms are immediately numbered and tracked.
They also limit how much you can say: 1,500 words is the maximum. If you’ve got more to say, the e-mail form won’t accept it. “Keeping things concise simply helps us,” Wagner says.
He also says that when complaints come via faxes or letters, they have to be scanned into the computer system, “which lengthens the handling time considerably.”
“E-mailing one of our executives is even a slower method,” he says. These e-mails must be placed into the system, “and this requires even more routing time.”
Because each request is tracked, “nothing slips through any cracks,” he says.
American’s web form is notorious for spitting out useless form letters. Tracking numbers are great, but only when there is a progression of service worth tracking.
The Internet — the only way to gripe [Star-Telegram]