TL;DR: What happened today? Thanks to the worst customer service provided by Lufthansa I am going to explain you why I missed a day in Vegas and why, in my over 15 years experience, you should stop flying Lufthansa.
Today, I was heading to Las Vegas, to chill out at Black Hat and Defcon, via Frankfurt and Philadelphia. I was flying Lufthansa, because in long flights I prefer to spend more and be safe; with my 2 dogs in a checked-in box. Due to many Lufthansa fails in logistics and customer service I miss my flight and I have been re-protected on a flight tomorrow.
So I would dissect the problem, to understand how multiple faults could face in missing a flight and have a reputational issue to manage.
In my opinion Lufthansa fails could be categorized as follows:
- Manage your logistics: if you want to check-in more or less 100 people, with only one check-in line open, you are going to, not only take more time than expected, but taking ages.
- Get more personeel: if the people at check-in desks are the same opening the gates, they can not start boarding until they finish checking in people. So one delay one one side leads to another bigger delay.
- Training: please train people, for example at check-in desks they were totally unaware on the rules to check-in dogs. I had to tell them how much I was expected to pay and other details, just because I read the “How to check-in your dogs” rules before boarding.
- Manage crisis: when we land in Frankfurt it was clear we were really late. All times I were late, the company I was flying with, was so kind to announce “Hey Mr. X you are late so we are going to help you, someone is waiting for you at end of the stairs”. But with Lufthansa no announcements, nobody cares if a flight is late.
- Customer service #1: keep your word: Landed in Frankfurt, I asked at the first Lufthansa hostess at the terminal how to get my connected flight. She checked and said “Don’t worry they will wait for you”. Sadly but true: I arrived at the gate 10 minutes late and they don’t wait.
- Customer service #2: manage exceptions: when I approached the passport control the line was really long, so I asked a Lufthansa hostess if there is a priority line for us, she said “Just one line and no priority”. So the incapacity to manage exceptions leads to re-protection (costs for Lufthansa).
- Customer service #3: don’t be a liar: I asked again to another Lufthansa hostess and I insisted, she checked and said “You will found someone waiting for you other the passport control”. No one was waiting.
- Customer service #4: make clients happy: I missed the filght and asked for support to the service desk, I found an angry girl. When someone comes to you for a problem caused by you, you should apologize and reward him. Just saying “we are sorry, the next flight is tomorrow” in economy class because business is fully booked and you will stay in a shitty hotel with a free 20 euros dinner, when you are used to five stars hotel and to spend more than that just for beers looks like a joke.
- Cruelty to animals #1: I asked to have my dogs back for the night, when I finally had my box back, it was all wet (it was raining so probably they left it under the rain). The pillow and blanket inside were wet: my dogs were sitting on the wet. Lufthansa publicize a lot how they threat pets, I am not sure this it what they meant.
- Cruelty to animals #2: I found a food stamp on the dog’s box, it means someone kicked it. I am not sure this is the proper way to deal with live animals.
- Missing authentication: When I finally found my dog’s box, it was left unattended on a corner in a baggage claim hall. No one is guarding it and no one asked me when I get them. So virtually anyone could steal your pets.
Citing Forrest Gump: “shit happens” but how you deal with shit, how you manage crisis and customer service make the difference from losing clients and transform an issue in a success story. And please, never be a liar.