When you think of Germany, what comes to your mind? Often the first thought is efficiency and a strong economy, the second being beer and the third being chocolate. And to tell you the truth that sums up most parts of Germany quite well. I’ve never been to a city that is so efficient, that you become nervous if you stumble while paying for your supermarket shopping. It’s funny though that for a country that is so efficient that their national airline does not follow this same philosophy.
Our tale begins on our Lufthansa flight from London to Frankfurt, due to our around the world ticket, we had to fly from London Heathrow to Frankfurt, Germany to catch a connecting flight to Washington DC – it should have been straight forward as we were catching the same airline right? Wrong! On the morning of our flight we arrived at London Heathrow and patiently waited for our flight to come. Apparently, there was some moisture in the air and as a result the plane was delayed. We’ve had delayed planes before and I understand that this cannot be avoided it’s what happened next that is the issue. Because of the delay and sitting on the tarmac, we missed our connecting flight to Frankfurt, we were told by the air hostesses that we would be informed by the ground staff as to what the procedure would be to book us onto another flight. After landing, we went to find the ground staff who told us they didn’t know and that we would have to go upstairs and speak to the Lufthansa booking desk. After finding the booking desk we asked about our connecting flight, we were told we were in the wrong line and as a result had to join another line, we moved lines and after waiting in that line we were told that the other line was the correct line, so we moved back to the original line and finally were told that there is no other Lufthansa flight departing for Washington DC that day and that we would have to fly through United Airlines, we then had to join the line to speak with United Airlines and to receive our standby tickets.
After four hours of waiting, we finally boarded our flight only to find out that although our Lufthansa ticket included free alcohol and other perks we would have to pay for alcohol on the plane – when you have been up since 6.00am and won’t arrive to Washington DC until midnight, having a free alcoholic drink would have helped! The only benefit we received was that we were upgraded to premium economy and that we should be grateful for that – we never received one apology or any post flight follow up such as an email apologising for the fact we missed our connecting flight.
So I can assure you all that I will not be flying Lufthansa again as their customer service is appalling. And if I was Lufthansa I would employ the following best practice tactics as Lufthansa’s reputation (as I found out later) is quite appalling.
1. Develop a workflow planthat shows what should happen if passengers miss their connecting flight as a result of Lufthansa. This document needs to clearly demonstrate the work flow of each employee and what their involvement should be in the process. It can be a simple one page document that shows the process – this will greatly improve the customer service of this airline.
2. Learn how to say ‘sorry’. Often the best way to rectify a bad customer service encounter is to apologise. An apology can help to calm the situation and demonstrate empathy.
3. Post flight follow up. It’s disappointing that we received no follow up from the airline regarding the issue. This is best practice and could have involved an email apologising for the situation and assuring customers that Lufthansa puts their customer base FIRST.
Until next time,
Cents and Sensibility
Julia Taine, Executive Director of Vent2Me, is a marketing problem solver and mentor. A mover and a shaker, Julia sees a niche in an industry, and takes it, by making it her own. Julia started Vent2Me, because people she knew were struggling with their online presence and their digital strategies. Julia knew she could help these people, and so here she is today.