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Smisek article on loyalty in Hemispheres Magazine

Smisek article on loyalty in Hemispheres Magazine

Old Feb 1, 13, 9:32 am
  #1  
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Smisek article on loyalty in Hemispheres Magazine

I saw this on my flight yesterday in the just published February edition of Hemispheres. It's from the "CEO Letter" column"

It's Our Job

Welcome aboard, and thanks for choosing United for your flight today. At United, we know that air travel isn’t just about getting you to your destination safely and on time. Air travel is an experience, and we recognize that it’s our job to make sure that our customers have the best experience possible. Although United enjoys the advantage of having the best route network in the world, our competitors have many of the same assets we do, and if they don’t, they’ll get them eventually. Ultimately, physical assets like planes or facilities or clubs can get competed away. Loyalty, however, is an asset that’s much harder to compete against. It’s our job to earn your loyalty by consistently delivering good customer service. Service can make all the difference between a good flight and a bad one, and we are committed to improving our service to you. To do this, we are taking a number of actions, including training 100 percent of our flight attendants and agents in customer service, so everyone is on the same page about what great service means and what we expect our co-workers to deliver for you. We’re also continuing the Outperform Recognition Program that we launched last year. Through this program, eligible MileagePlus customers can nominate, using our mobile app, a co-worker for providing excellent customer service in the air, at the airport, on the phone, or at any other point during their experience with United. Last month, we awarded $125,000 to our first set of 16 winning co-workers. The 16 corresponding customers who nominated them also won some great prizes, including roundtrip tickets and frequent flyer mileage awards. During the first nomination period, customers submitted more than 9,000 nominations. We’ve got experienced, professional people; spectacular new aircraft like the 787 Dreamliner; investments we’re making in our air and ground products; and the best route network out there. By providing you with great customer service, we will create the world’s leading airline. Thanks again for choosing to fly with us. We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you onboard again soon.
(Bolding Mine)

[Mods - I pasted the entire column assuming that sourcing from a free UA publication would be OK on the UA forum. If not please edit as needed]

So it appears that (on paper anyway) Smisek is saying that he "gets it" when it comes to loyalty. Perhaps this is in response to lagging PRASM or maybe it is in line with what we've been hearing about increasing focus on customer service.

I tend to view loyalty towards an airline and their FF program as a two way street - a contract if you will. I'll bring you my business and even recommend you to my friends and coworkers so long as you treat me well and reward me well. Clearly that balance is starting to change across the industry. Hopefully this is a sign that he really does "get it" and will start to make changes that we actually do like.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 9:47 am
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I'm confused. Is he just stating the mundane, obvious SOP re: training flight attendants and gate agents in customer service, or does he mean they're REtraining these personnel?
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Old Feb 1, 13, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by scosprey View Post
I'm confused. Is he just stating the mundane, obvious SOP re: training flight attendants and gate agents in customer service, or does he mean they're REtraining these personnel?
Whatever he's saying, I don't believe him.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 9:53 am
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Originally Posted by scosprey View Post
I'm confused. Is he just stating the mundane, obvious SOP re: training flight attendants and gate agents in customer service, or does he mean they're REtraining these personnel?



From what I heard (don't remember where) they are retraining GAs.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 9:57 am
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Originally Posted by scosprey View Post
I'm confused. Is he just stating the mundane, obvious SOP re: training flight attendants and gate agents in customer service, or does he mean they're REtraining these personnel?
It is obvious from the examples posted in this forum by customers and employees, that UA, like most airlines, does not train its customer facing employees in the art of customer service.

Training employees is goodness. But what about post-training? How will lapses in training be handled? Jeff Smisek described the carrot, "Outperform Recognition Program" and the mechanism, "mobile app". Let's hear about the stick.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 9:57 am
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I like the honest acknowledgement, and the message.

Of course, the real proof will be in the execution.

As with all things UA, time will tell.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:04 am
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Loyalty isn't driven by 'customer service', per se, in my opinion. It is driven by delivering a product, and added benefits that have value to the consumer.

The bolded statement sounds like further validation of everyone is equal. Frankly, the gap I am feeling with ToD's and etc isnt a customer service issue, it is an overt devaluing of the things to which we ascribe value.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:05 am
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Let's hope the poor PRASM numbers were the wake-up call UA needed to move in the right direction. I'd like to think that some of the perspectives and painful stories shared here made an impact but suspect that's just wishful thinking.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:14 am
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Everything this regime has done, commensurate with the 'all elites are equal' mentality and the 'you're in' program and the anti customer hostility and the devaluations of mp to remove over entitlement and the transactional model in which loyalty has no impact on any outcome ... All of this says that loyalty is irrelevant to this regime. Smisek has set a new bar for lies.

Service comes from leadership and culture not from training. He should be embarrassed to publicly say what he has said. The rotten service starts at his desk and flows down from there.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:17 am
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Smisek article on loyalty in Hemispheres Magazine

The article just proves he doesn't get it. And as such he won't be seeing many of our dollars for the foreseeable future.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:20 am
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Reading between the lines and considering what actions have been taken by UAL since the merger vis-a-vis elites, loyalty to SMI/J means delivering a consistent product on a clean, reliable airplane.

In his mind, once you start delivering a consistent product the masses will flock to the airline because of that - and of course, the network. Jeff doesn't believe he must spend anything beyond funding a customer service training program for all customer-facing positions and painting airplanes to build loyalty.

Given the erosion of Mileage Plus perks (i.e. the comments by the CFO about "over-entitled" FFs), the SMI/J calculus does not factor in the loyalty built by offering a reasonable FF scheme for customers who spend heavily. If it does, it is only a marginal benefit that he would rather not pay for. He thinks the average FF will continue to buy if the plane is clean and the FA doesn't sneer at them.

We'll see how the next 12 to 18 months play out. I think UAL's operation will continue to be pressured to deliver a consistently good experience and the disregard for MP may [hopefully] be SMI/J's undoing because the HVF will continue to attrit away to other carriers.

Last edited by B787938; Feb 1, 13 at 10:26 am
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:26 am
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You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:31 am
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"...MileagePlus customers can nominate, using our mobile app, a co-worker for providing excellent customer service in the air..."

I don't have a co-worker to nominate - I'm retired.

Seriously, has anybody suggested to Mr. Smisek that his continuing affected and sometimes awkward use of "co-worker" (no fewer than three above) could come across as patronizing to employees?

Coworker

a fellow worker <my coworkers and I often send facetious e-mails to one another>
Synonyms associate, confrere (also confr{egrave}re), coworker
Related Words equal, fellow, peer; accomplice, ally, cohort, collaborator, confederate, copartner, half, partner; buddy, chum, companion, comrade, crony, pal; compatriot, countryman
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:32 am
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IMO -- good, consistent CS should be just common business sense. Not a way to learn loyalty.
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Old Feb 1, 13, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by nova08 View Post
You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?
I'm wondering if the talk is even the appropriate talk to be honest.

He's said some things that acknowledges a level of deficiency; but will it actually address the loss of business flyers that are a core part of UA's revenue (besides trying to get corporate customers back)?
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