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Amitava Chattopadhyay


Amitava Chattopadhyay
Emerging Market Multinationals - Amitava Chattopadhyay


customer centrity

Navel Gazing rather than Customer Gazing!

From time to time, for reasons of practicality, I end up flying an airline other than Singapore Airlines. Generally, as on this occasion, I wish I had been traveling by SQ.  Here’s the story.

I arrived at Heathrow and made my way to the Emirates counter in terminal 3, to check in just a little while ago.  Upon arrival, I discovered that there were two earlier flights and there were seats to boot on both of them.  Since I had arrived early, and would have preferred a longer transit time in Dubai compared to the 75 minutes that I had, I decided to see if I could be put on an earlier flight.

The check-in agent said that I needed to go to the ticketing counter to make the change.  So I schlepped my duffel bag over to the ticketing counter and waited patiently for my turn in the queue.  When I got to the ticketing agent he informed me that although I was flying business, and although there were empty seats on both the earlier flights, he couldn’t change my ticket without an extra charge! That was the rule!

This makes no sense to me.  It would have earned Emirates a lot of goodwill to accommodate me, using a perishable empty seat at zero marginal cost. Had they done so, perhaps I would have flown again on Emirates, but alas there are rules.

I then asked the ticketing agent why the agent who was checking me in couldn’t have told me the rule and saved me the hassle of schlepping  my duffel bag and standing in queues.  That would have been a little less annoying.  The answer staggered me.  The check in agent has no way of accessing the ticketing information.  The check-in system and ticketing system are siloed!

On the cusp of the second half of 2018, why would an airline that wishes to offer customer service have such a siloed approach!  I can’t think of a good reason.  The agent also couldn’t, and admitted that integrating them would make his life, and that of his colleagues, easier.  Maybe this absurd situation is due to navel gazing rather than customer gazing! Can you think of another reason?


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