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.

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.

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