The following experience might not sound like it’s the end of the world, but for me the experience evoked a very negative emotional reaction. I was traveling from Croatia to the US, to visit New York before I begin my exchange semester in Austin. After landing in NY at midnight, being totally exhausted from the 14-hour trip, and having to take 2 “random” security checks, I was waiting for my luggage. After a while I was the only person waiting for luggage and I was told if the bag has not arrived until now, it will not arrive at all and that I should follow him. I was scared, angry, tired and literally running after the airport employee for who I believed that he was trying to run away from me.
Lost and found office
At the most hidden corner of the airport was the a lost and found counter with very unfriendly employees who were obviously upset for having to work the night shift. They wrote down my address and name and were not able to provide me with any other information. The experience was even worse for me since this was only the second time I was flying with an air plane, and although I thought it would never happen to me that from all people my luggage would be lost (according to the Air Travel Consumer Report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, you face less than a 1 percent chance that a major airline will misplace your bags) my mother insisted I had to take an insurance for the luggage. The insurance company instructed me to have the arriving airport fill out a form in case the luggage was lost. The employees refused to fill out anything saying that this in not their problem but the problem of the airline company, and thy are not allowed to do that. So, there I was in NY at 1 am, like in the old movies of European immigrants, alone in a big city with nothing with me except for my laptop suitcase, a few bucks in my wallet and half of a sandwich my mother made me.
Reclaiming the luggage
I got an email from a third party (so not the airport, not the airline) that they are working on finding my luggage and that they would call me once it found. However, the telephone number stated in the email was not correct (the nice lady at the lost and found counter must have gotten it wrong) and there was no tel. number to call and of course my emails were not replied. I got a new US number, I tried to call Norwegian airlines multiple times. Every time I called I had to wait over one hour to get a customer support agent and receive no useful information. I started to be nervous since time was crucial, tomorrow I had to fligh to Austin. On the morning before my flight to Austin I called Norwegian airlines once more and finally received the information that I would receive my luggage in one hour. So, I rushed from Manhattan to Brooklyn where they would deliver the address. Since the delivery company did not arrive I called the airline again, and they said they made a mistake. The delivery company tried to deliver it the day before, but since there was no doorbell at my Airbnb apartment they left (the apartment and neighbourhood of my apartment is another story of emotional reactions).
Stressful happy end
After many calls I finally got the delivery company and asked them to deliver my bag to the airport before 5pm since that was the time I was flying to Austin. I arrived 4 hours earlier to the agreed terminal, just to be told by the employee that they did not receive my bag. I went myself to the warehouse and looked for my luggage, and luckily I found it, although I was told that it is not there for sure.
Understanding the Experience
Applying the model learned in class I will analyse what made me hate Norwegian for the rest of my life and how to prevent situations as the one described above. The first step in good customer relationship management should be the empathises with the customers. To better understand the customer, experience the company should ask the following questions?
· What does the customer think and feel when loosing luggage?
The customer feels afraid and scared. That’s why the first reference point should comfort the customer by saying that the bag will be found for sure and be transparent about what are the next steps. The customer should definitely not be left in doubts and unknowing what to do.
· What are the customers pain points?
Obviously, the missing bag, but also the uncertainty and missing transparency about the future steps.
· What does the customers expect to gain?
Receive the luggage as soon as possible.
· What does the customer see?
The customer is in a stress situation, the first point of reference should be a room with warm colours and welcoming employees. The customer should definitely not see a grey whole in the wall and angry employees.
· What does the customer say and do?
Although every day customers loose luggage, the employees were surprised with my very predictable questions: when will I get my bag back? Where do I claim my insurance? Who will give me my luggage back? A well-designed process would anticipate these questions and provide answers.
· What does the customer hear?
This question goes hand in hand with the questions above. The customer wants to hear answers on when the bag is right now, when will it be returned, who can give me updates? Furthermore, the customer wants to hear it now, not after having to call many different companies who all have different working times because the call centre is outsourced somewhere.
This simple Frameworks proves that even very bad customer experience such as losing the luggage, can be made more enjoyable for the customer if the company really tries to empathize with the customer.