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Call for BA to implement callback & filtering features

Call for BA to implement callback & filtering features

Old Aug 26, 19, 12:54 am
  #1  
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Call for BA to implement callback & filtering features

With all the current disruptions, the single most frustrating thing reported have been not being able to get through to speak to anyone, with their contact numbers ringing out, or cutting off after a brief message that they can't answer the call due to high call volume.

If you are thinking that it's limited to non-BAEC members, I had this quite a bit even as a GGL, so I have experienced it myself.

Once I spoke to call centre agents, they were absolutely wonderful - sincere, helpful, courteous, caring people. I really can't fault any of the agents I spoke to (and I spoke to quite a few because of my own fault - well, not mine as such, but my mobile phone provider periodically dropping the calls!), But if you can't get through to them, you can't get their help!

Given the stress it causes to people, I'd like to publicly ask BA to implement the system that does things in the following order:

1) Call filtering based on the number you are calling from to prioritise according to membership

2) If not identified from the phone number, being able to enter the BAEC membership number for prioritisation

3) Average waiting time to be announced while on hold, and the position in the queue

4) Prioritised call-back function, where you press a button, leave a message with your phone number, and wait for call-back, with estimated call-back time

5) System like SQ PPS Call-back service, where you enter your number on a webpage and have them call you back, without needing to call in the first place, for selected members, with callback time guarantee

Rationale:

1) Some abuse of 'status-based' telephone numbers have been happening, which delays calls being answered for genuine members. This system sorts that out

2) Sometimes you are calling from a phone number not associated with your membership

3) You know whether to hold or ask them to call back. If you choose to hold, you will hear your progress in the queue

4) Having them call you back will save you having to wait in line.

5) Rationale not needed - benefit is pretty clear!

It won't solve all the problems (e.g. prioritisation for non-status members in CW/F, OWE etc.) but at least, it may help to ease the phone line congestion and associated stresses.

If BA can't sort out their IT and IR issues, I think this is at least something that will make life a bit easier for those affected by IT or IR issues (as well as other miscellaneous mass disruptions such as weather).
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LTN Phobia is offline  
Old Aug 26, 19, 1:35 am
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I agree that all of the above are excellent ideas. However, would they really solve the problems that the majority of folks are experiencing?
Isnt the problem that the service is resource constrained, in that there just aren’t enough agents available to deal with the calls.
I would imagine that it is difficult to justify permanently having the numbers of agents available to deal efficiently with the deluge of calls they’ve received in the last couple of days. However, what we’ve seen over the weekend is far from satisfactory and I’m sure can be bettered. Certainly, the callback option you suggested would free up customers time.

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zanderblue is offline  
Old Aug 26, 19, 1:49 am
  #3  
 
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Whilst the points made by the OP are extremely valid, calling a business is a very 90s affair.

I would much prefer to use a medium such as Whatsapp to communicate with BA, underpinned by a fully-functioning website and App that is specced to handle transactions such as complicated itinerary ticketing, IRROPs for every eventuality (including rebooking on other carriers) and ability to perform upgrades, vouchers, jokers etc.

That said, I make do by using the email feature for contacting BA - communication is on my terms at the time I wish to communicate. It seems to work for now until more modern approaches are adopted by BA.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 1:56 am
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Much of the chaos at the weekend can be directly attributed to BA's woeful IT: customers were incorrectly advised that their flights had been cancelled and options for rebooking online were limited or non-existent.

Perhaps BA will now start to take seriously the deficiencies in its computer systems: it needs to tackle the serious underlying issues and stop tinkering with the front end, almost every change to which makes the customer experience worse rather than better. The reputational cost of BA's IT failures is now becoming very significant indeed.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:02 am
  #5  
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I agree that call filtering would be good but also agree with the comments above that for instance a chat function (many airlines have it) would be even better. Entering once membership number at the start of chat to screen and prioritise would work very well as part of that too and chats can often work on a 24 hour basis.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:06 am
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Excellent ideas from LTNPhobia but all non-starters as they would cost money to implement and only cost cutting is in the DNA of BA these days.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:18 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
I agree that call filtering would be good but also agree with the comments above that for instance a chat function (many airlines have it) would be even better. Entering once membership number at the start of chat to screen and prioritise would work very well as part of that too and chats can often work on a 24 hour basis.
I donít disagree with your suggestion, chat function is great tool. But doesnít it came back to issue of not having enough agents available to deal with the volume of calls/chats coming in?
If BA donít have the agents available, either on the phone or for online chat to deal with you, you are still left waiting in a queue or struggling to join a queue?
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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:21 am
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I agree wholeheartedly, but this is as a direct result of not being able to deal with matters on line by oneself. People were unable to do anything as they kept getting “unknown error “ messages which meant nothing. I was one of them. Many of the calls were made needlessly as the system sent out messages that should never have been sent.

So, whilst I agree with you, none of this might have happened if their IT wasn’t so flakey. How many times to we read that here? We have to go to the Finnair site for meaningful information about our booking. It’s like me going to Waitrose to find out the price of tights at Marks and Sparks. Utterly ridiculous.

If if they fixed that, brought back in house from some Indian outhouse (or wherever) and realise that one can save pennies but that it cost Pounds when it all goes wrong. How many times does it have to do that before the matter is addressed? Fix that, and people won’t need to make all those calls.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:25 am
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I also wonder whether as well as having contact centre based agents BA could issue all agents with a laptop and usb headset (could do away with desktop) and enable agents to connect remotely. In times of disruption, BA could ask agents if, for an overtime payment, they are free to log in to handle calls. Even if off duty agents could only manage an hour here or there surely this would help.

I presume BAís phone network is VOIP so using something such as Cisco Jabber for calls could work?
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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:28 am
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I agree that this weekend's shambles could largely have been avoided:
A large number of people (including myself) were incorrectly told that their flights had been cancelled, not that they might be cancelled, but really cancelled.
BA's IT ensured that you couldn't change your booking anyway, because it hadn't been debugged correctly. In my case that was fortunate.
That uselessly tied up the call-centre which was overloaded. I ended up getting through after about 2 hours (to a French speaker, which might have put me ahead of some).
I would agree that the agent was extraordinarily courteous and helpful, amazing when you consider what they had been going through.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:42 am
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Although this would undoubtedly help, BA would still need to employ more people to handle the volume of calls on weeks like this. The agent I spoke to on Friday to get my flight change, who was also outstanding in handling my call, said that they were staying on a few extra hours until midnight. It seems to me that BA hadnít fully prepared for the strike announcement by having an army of people it could bring in at short notice to cope, probably because that costs money.

IMO this all comes back to penny pinching.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 3:00 am
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The items listed above are not rocket science or even terribly expensive to implement, but I am not sure it would make much difference.

From what I can make out, BA did pull in as many volunteers as they could (I note we haven't heard much from our usual contact centre lurkers, I'm sure they have been working flat out). So let's say they had an extra 25% resource on call (made up statistic) and that would be at the top end of what is possible over a bank holiday weekend during school holidays. The number of calls is running at 9 times the usual rate (not a made up statistic). You can do what you like but with such a big mis-alignment between supply and demand then realistically it's going to be best endeavours. As it happens the GGL and YouFirst lines didn't go to a very long wait, and it seems that Golds were getting through reasonably successfully.

Realistically you can't do much about supply, and in any case, to keep our tickets reasonable the number of Contact Centre agents will have to be kept roughly in line with the main bell curve of demand, which means one end of the bell curve won't look good. In which case all you can and should do is invest in keeping demand down - in other words self serve / Manage My Booking tools. That actually should be the focus area. In the past this was rarely successful, but it seems that at least some participants on the Help Desk thread were able to do some limited self service for uncomplicated bookings - so it is getting better in that area.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 3:07 am
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Originally Posted by PUCCI GALORE View Post
If if they fixed that, brought back in house from some Indian outhouse (or wherever) and realise that one can save pennies but that it cost Pounds when it all goes wrong. How many times does it have to do that before the matter is addressed? Fix that, and people won’t need to make all those calls.
I was working for RBS when they had that major systems failure a few years back, locking customers out of their accounts for almost a week. It was due to staff in India mistakenly loading one of the overnight batch tapes out of sequence. Anyone can make a mistake, but these inexpensive new hirings didn't have the experience to know what to do to fix the problem (all the long-serving technical staff in London had been disposed of) and their cack-handed attempts to do so just made things worse. RBS saved a few million by outsourcing but it ended up costing them ten of millions and a lot of goodwill.

A similar thing happened at Lloyds when I worked there last year, when they were trying to move TSB onto a new IT platform - in that case the outsourced staff even instagrammed photographs of themselves toasting the apparent success of the project with champagne just minutes before it all came crashing down. (Perhaps they should have been concentrating on the work in hand rather than updating their social media accounts.)

Companies just never seem to learn.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 3:11 am
  #14  
 
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
The items listed above are not rocket science or even terribly expensive to implement, but I am not sure it would make much difference.

From what I can make out, BA did pull in as many volunteers as they could (I note we haven't heard much from our usual contact centre lurkers, I'm sure they have been working flat out). So let's say they had an extra 25% resource on call (made up statistic) and that would be at the top end of what is possible over a bank holiday weekend during school holidays. The number of calls is running at 9 times the usual rate (not a made up statistic). You can do what you like but with such a big mis-alignment between supply and demand then realistically it's going to be best endeavours. As it happens the GGL and YouFirst lines didn't go to a very long wait, and it seems that Golds were getting through reasonably successfully.

Realistically you can't do much about supply, and in any case, to keep our tickets reasonable the number of Contact Centre agents will have to be kept roughly in line with the main bell curve of demand, which means one end of the bell curve won't look good. In which case all you can and should do is invest in keeping demand down - in other words self serve / Manage My Booking tools. That actually should be the focus area. In the past this was rarely successful, but it seems that at least some participants on the Help Desk thread were able to do some limited self service for uncomplicated bookings - so it is getting better in that area.
" From what I can make out, BA did pull in as many volunteers as they could "
I Just hope those Volunteers will be remunerated appropriately

ML
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Old Aug 26, 19, 3:16 am
  #15  
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I think that this is addressing the wrong issue too - make it possible for people to help themselves by providing the online tools to do it. People aren't going to sit in a phone queue for lord knows how long if they can do it in a couple of minutes online.

Number one change here is actually to address the BA management mindset. It needs to stop seeing IT as an operating expense that needs to be minimised in order to increase the bottom line, and instead approach it as central to the ongoing operation of its business.
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