In the Trenches: Changing Our Services
Last month, I wrote about how the lines between some of our services have begun to blur. Since then, I’ve been working to redesign how we present our offers, so that they’re completely clear. This has given me an opportunity to fix some other nagging issues, including how to handle flight changes for people who’ve only signed up for flight monitoring.
For example, we had a client who hired us monitor a domestic round-trip itinerary over Presidents’ Day weekend. The return flight was scheduled for Monday, and a concierge was assigned to monitor it. But on Saturday, we received a call from the client on our urgent assistance line with a request to change the return flight to Sunday.
This situation brought up some questions:
First, how do we make it clear to clients that they need to contact their concierge and that they can’t just call the urgent line for service (unless they pay for it)? Some clients assume that, if they sign up for any service, they are entitled to an immediate response at any time — even if their flights aren’t that day. But that’s not how we work.
Second, how do we deal with flight changes when a client has only signed up for flight monitoring? Our monitoring packages are just that: You provide us with your flights. We monitor them and step in if anything goes wrong (such as a flight cancellation). If you change your flights, that’s fine; just send us the new ones, and we will monitor those instead.
When flight monitoring clients ask us to help with flight changes, we do our best to accommodate them, but we haven't really provided the concierges the tools to do that adequately. That's something we handle in the office. Of course, if a client is traveling, our concierges will respond immediately and help rebook a flight when things go wrong. But if a client unexpectedly writes us a couple days in advance of a flight to make a change, the concierges aren’t expected to respond quickly. If they do, they don’t have things like access to the systems we use for flight bookings to be able to help with flight changes.
As the redesign goes forward, this is something that I need to fix. Do we tell flight monitoring clients that we won’t make changes? Or do we charge an additional fee to help? If we do the latter, we could give clients access to the concierges who are best equipped to respond quickly and make changes.
I think the answer is to offer help with changes for an additional fee. Now I just need to make sure that doing so doesn’t get too complex!
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.