British Airways – Online Check-In and Call Center Experience

I am a frequent flyer with British Airways and it is always great transiting through London and stopping over. You get to work with three different time-zones (US, Europe and India) and I cherish this experience. I flew from San Francisco(SFO) transiting through Dallas(DFW) and London(LHR) to my end destination Chennai(MAA) on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014.

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SFO to DFW:
My flight from San Francisco to Dallas was operated by American Airlines. As I need an Aisle seat to travel I always make it a point to do online check-in and pick a seat. On the British airways website, it re-directed me to the American Airlines site and was able to check in from SFO to Dallas and reserved an Aisle Seat for the 12:20 AM flight to Dallas.

Dallas(DFW) to London(LHR): (Not able to Check-in)
The flight from Dallas departed @ 4:45 PM, Central Standard Time (CST) on Thursday and logged in dot 24 hours prior to departure for online check-in. However since the website was re-directed to American Airlines and the actual Dallas to London flight was operated through British Airways, it did not let me check-in / nor reserve a seat. I decided to call Customer Service. I was in San Francisco (2:45 PM PST) and called up British Airways. My call was routed to a call center in New Delhi , India.

Customer Service Experience- 1 (No courtesy)
The gentlemen who picked my call got all the information (not being able to check in online / choose a seat from Dallas to London and London to Chennai). With no courtesy, he put my call on hold (and me listening to music). I wasn’t sure if the customer service representative left. He returned and mentioned that he is not able to pick my seat /nor check in for me.

Customer Service Experience – 2 (In-correct Information)
The flight was to depart @ 4:45 PM Central Standard Time (CST). I was trying to check-in 24 hours prior. The customer service gentleman asked what my local time was. I mentioned, that I was in San Francisco and it was 3:15 PM or so Pacific Standard Time. He responded the flight is to depart @ 4:45 PM CST, however, since it is not 4:45 PM in my current location(San Francisco), I should try to check in when it is 4:45 PM in San Francisco and the system may let me do it. I could not take this and was confused. He repeated the same thing.

Customer Service Experience – 3 (Hung up on me)
By this time, I had spent close to 45 minutes on the phone line (working hard to reserve an Aisle seat) for the long flight travel. I mentioned to this gentleman, that he is not educated enough to handle my call and I should be passed on to his supervisor. He would not listen and hung up on me.

Customer Service Experience – 4 (No Consistency)
I did not want to give up. Tried calling the customer service number, this time I had to wait longer and it did route me to New Delhi again. This gentleman was a little better and as my friend suggested, I decided to get the first name and last name of the customer service representative who attended my call. The Customer Service representative provided his first and last name. He clearly explained that I will not be able to check in and should do so and choose my seat @ the SFO airport. I wanted to be connected with his supervisor. He obliged. I explained to the supervisor this painful exercise I had to go through and asked for his first name and last name. He would give me his first name, however per the call policy the last name would not be provided. I mentioned to the supervisor that his associate provided me with his first and last name and there was in-consistency in what I am being told. He apologized. This inconsistency hurts the customer and in turn British Airways.

I must admit that I enjoy the travel experience through British Airways and the flight staff are pleasant. However you do need to fix the customer service experience. When I call to book a ticket(Sales Call), you transfer to an agent in UK/US and when it is customer service you transfer elsewhere. Please note that there is a lot of churn with call center jobs in India and it is becoming challenging for enterprises to maintain the quality and standards one would expect (The jobs are in graveyard shifts, lack of first hand exposure, not so desired jobs). How about you create more local jobs in UK which a lot of folks are craving for? If you do not intend to do so, at least have a strict process of training in place for your vendors. Few experiences like these will hurt corporations bigger than we think while the representative who took the call will find another job and move on. You clearly have a problem here.

Website Issues
Your website experience is not that great either. I tried to book using my AVIOS and was lost in the site. You can also try to book multi-city travel and it is such a painful experience. User Interface/ User Experience needs extensive clean-up / re-haul. Some parts of your iphone app re-directs to the mobile site. It is not complete. I have a suggestion here, You can hire DCKAP to take care of this. We will fix it.

British Airways, You should be able to track the call logs with date/time and check the call recordings. I would be glad to assist / offer inputs on what is not working on your website /mobile app either. Your success matters to me, British Airways is my first ever flight 12 years ago.

First Timer’s CES Experience @ Las Vegas – ‘It was overwhelming’

Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, Jan 7-Jan 10 , 2014- Lot have and would be written about the event, Here is the CES First Timer’s view. I wasn’t sure what to expect, however knew it would be a great experience (having heard a lot about CES from friends). ‘It was overwhelming’ – This was the way most attendees described the CES event. The show floor was spread across multiple locations and you would need a Global Positioning System to navigate through the exhibit floors. The CES team was extremely well organized with shuttle pick-up and drop from the hotel and from the conference center to Venetian (where there were multiple exhibit floors).

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SMB’s, Manufacturers and China
There were hundreds (maybe thousands ) of exhibitors. I was under the impression that CES is a lot about Samsung, LG, SONY, INTEL, AMD and the other big brands. It was my ignorance. There were numerous companies (manufactures) from China, Taiwan & Korea. It was very interesting to compare the wholesaler / distributor pricing with the retailer price of the same product. There were at least 50 Power Banks manufacturers from china. The manufacturing companies from these countries had a plethora of products to offer: Head-sets , Plugs, Switches, Lights, Portable Chargers, Keyboards, Speakers, mini and low priced tablets, ipad stands, bags and back-packs, cables, mobile cases, laptop chargers and more. If you are a distributor/buyer, CES is a great place to make connections with manufacturers directly and they are very welcoming. I also learnt about MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity).

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Infotainment & Wearable Tech.
Infotainment in the cars was a treat to watch @ the CES. There were exhibits from BMW, Daimler(Mercedes- Benz), Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and most of the big car brands. Each of them had something unique to offer. Giant touch screens in the cars to play music, videos, apps that are relevant and more. The infotainment was tied to mobile phones (iphone and android) and some of the brands were focused on building their own ecosystem / app-store for the infotainment on their cars. Car without a steering and drive based on body positioning – The model was demoed by Toyota.

Wearable Tech. was very much noticeable in the CES. Glasses, Watches, head-bands, wrist bands that work with technology, lets you browse, talk to wearable devices and get things done. It will be good to watch if Wearable Tech. would be the way forward, however very much still in a nascent stage.

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Home Automation & Robots
There were numerous Home Automation companies exhibiting @ the CES. Automating your home, security systems for your home / surroundings, transmitting the data via IP and monitoring your home from wherever you are, were the highlights. It was cool to watch robots cleaning the floor and windows. This would make lives of people much easier without needing a third party/maids to assist you in your day-day living.

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Sound Blaster – from CREATIVE
I found this cool. Wireless Speaker, Megaphone, Karoke, Battery Bank, Teleconferencing, Voice Recording, Sound Blaster — all bundled in one device. The presenter who demoed the product did an excellent job of keeping the audience tuned to his product and this sure resulted in a lot of sale for them @ the show. They were selling for $149(retail price $199) and I ordered one after testing the product @ the show. I also picked up car chargers (2 for $5) and Bluetooth speakers ($15). Last day @ CES is usually a good day to shop. Most of the foreign companies don’t intend to take back the show-case products home and prefer to sell @ the show at the manufacturer’s price.

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There was just not enough time to see everything. It indeed was overwhelming. You tend to get leg pain in the second day of the conference having walked a lot. Fascinating First Time Experience. CES is one of the largest conferences in the world I have attended. Congratulations to the CEA team for keeping the bar and standards of the conference so high and you make business’s connect easier.