Frustration Soars As Airline Switches To Call Center For Support

from the emergency dept

For companies of all sorts, the lure of moving customer support operations to low cost call centers is often irresistible. But as many can attest, the money saved can show up as money lost somewhere else. The problems at Dell following its move to skimp on service are quite illustrative. It looks like the latest to fall into this trap is Hawaiian Airlines, which has seen customer wait times soar, ever since it outsourced its operations to a call center. This has resulted in lost sales, as well as, undoubtedly, a damaged reputation. The company claims that the long waits on hold are the result of a surge in volume, but that seems like too much of a convenient coincidence. Hopefully, the company has a plan to fix the problem. If it laid off a lot of its trained support staff, it won't be so easy to just call them up and ask them to come back.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 10:49am

    Don speak english nohow

    What's worse? Call center operators from da kine speaking in brudda hawaii-speak, or filipino operators? In my experience, Filipino English is easier to understand. He so lolo he wen pau!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 11:24am

    Your call is important to us..

    please hold while we transfer you to another planet.
    Your call may be recorded in front of a live studio audience.
    Press 1 for Russian, 2 for Hindi, 3 for Brunduahi, ... 17 for Swaziland.
    You may want to try the web site which is down at the moment.
    Press 19 if you have the hiccups.
    Please enter you account number so we can ask you for it again when you actually talk to someone on your next birthday.

    "And after I have brutalized these people I will send you Feyd, lovely Feyd."; Baron Vladimir Harkonen, Dune.

    Your mileage may vary,
    consult your doctor before making any calls.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Omaha, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    Call center?

    I assume you meant outsourced call center as I suspect Hawaiian Airlines was answering their calls previously from their own call center.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 11:29am

    Why do they always go with the cheapest they can find? You get what you pay for, of course...

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 11:40am

    It could be worse...

    Nothing beats the old automated customer service center from AOL. While on hold after already pressing whatever number for "If you are unable to connect to the internet" the hold message would say something to the effect of, "If you are having trouble connecting please send an email to support@aol.com."

     

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  6.  
    icon
    sehlat (profile), Jul 12th, 2007 @ 11:41am

    Old, old problem

    They once asked one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts what he did during the long holds in the countdowns. His reply: "I look at the panel in front of me, reminding myself that each and every component of it was built by the lowest bidder."

    Hawaiian Airlines obviously never heard of this.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Tony, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 11:50am

    Sad

    Sad, sad very sad especially for tourists

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    AntiAmericanHero, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 11:50am

    OUTSOURCING

    You know it is nice to see that "all that gliter is not gold" when you outsource.
    We are the benifits of it-
    press 1 for real english(FARSI)
    press2 some English(Mangled brit)
    press3 for total confusion in english-Pakistan Support
    press 4 for a good screw around
    press5 to talk with someone that is masterbating in the background
    press6 for suicide instructions in FARSI
    Press7 to leave message to George Bush
    press8 to leave a message for Hilarous
    Press 9 to talk to Micro$h%t about "Genuine Windows Support"

    But look at the bright side of things the big cheifs still plot and stratigize on how to screw the American worker even more...
    Like it says you pay for what you get these days. Big business has a lot of restructuring to do. And it will be expensive of course. But they don't care they just pass it on to the consummer.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    runeazure, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 12:20pm

    i work in a bank call center, and i hate the system. press 1 for english ..wtf

     

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  10.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jul 12th, 2007 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Call center?

    I assume you meant outsourced call center as I suspect Hawaiian Airlines was answering their calls previously from their own call center.

    no. at many airlines you have to pick up a phone or use a kiosk instead of dealing with a human in person. what's funny is some airlines have to humans to help people use the terminals.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Chris Maresca, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Hawaiian Airlines has a monopoly

    Hawaiian Airlines has a virtual monopoly on Hawaii since they are pretty much only ones (with United) flying there from the lower 48.

    Not only that, but they also dominate inter-island flights and they are required to provide cheap airfares to locals traveling between islands (under $20, I believe). So I don't think they will loose any business.

    Besides, I'd much rather them cut costs in already non-existent customer service than maintenance...

    Chris.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward - Not a racist!, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

    Re:

    Eh. With the brown flood from Mexico... *waves hand and sighs*

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Tech Call Center Drone, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 3:14pm

    Oh, I think I know EXACTLY how this works...

    Hmmm...thousand bucks says there WAS no unanticipated "surge in volume". How can they not know what their call volume will be?

    No, the salescritters for the call center triumphantly cashed their bonus checks having misprepresented the capabilities of said call center. THEN, management's desperate pleas for overtime were ignored by workers who'd long been screwed by being sent home every time things got slow for 10 minutes.

    What a surprise...

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Tech Call Center Drone, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 3:21pm

    Oh, forgot to mention...

    ...that the phone agents will be horribly undertrained in the requirements of the new client. The databases and apps will be down, non-existent or horribly slow. The 'scripts' will cover about 30% of the actual call situations. There will have been, at best, a belated and ineffectual effort to increase staff to meet the demands of the new contract.

    But the sales guys, training, HR, and management will be okay with it, they'll be cashing their checks and blaming the floor agents, who will bear, as well, the brunt of customer dissatisfaction.

    It's not just a career...it's an ADVENTURE!!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Luci, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Oh, forgot to mention...

    Wow. Sounds like you worked for CVG or one of their ilk. Reminds me a lot of my time behind the phones for a contractor with AT&T Broadband. XD

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    ya, right, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Oh, I forgot to mention...

    I work in a contact center that does broadband support to one of the large telcos. The agents are to blame for 90% of the customer service issues.

    If they would come to work (on time) and actually care about their jobs and do a good job at taking care of the customer, customer service would be great. Instead, most of them are all ghetto trash from the south and they don't care about the customers, much less anything else. All I hear all day is that they don't make enough to care. No offense, but it is not like they are out in the heat/cold all day having to do manual labor. They sit in a chair in a climate controlled building and talk on the phone. They complain about the equipment being crappy, yet they are the first to trash it when it gets fixed. What do they want?

    I did it at one time and it was not that bad. Sure... I didn't like it, but I was good at it and I took care of the customer at all costs.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Dylan Downhill, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 6:08pm

    Outsourcing Staff

    If you think the call center is bad, try checking onto the planes. We missed one flight because it took over an hour to get from the end of the queue to the automated check in terminals to get our boarding passes.

    When we complained they said
    a) it takes less than 45 minutes to get from the end to the beginning (as if that's acceptable and I know it was an hour because I stood there for that bloody long)

    b) I should have been at the airport 2 hours before the (domestic) flight so that these delays didn't mean I miss my flight. That'll teach us for getting there just 90 minutes early for a domestic flight.

    I wonder how much money they save compared to how many people that will now no longer fly with them because of their awful service.


    BTW this was Southwest from Phoenix.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Hawaiian Airlines has a monopoly

    Hawaiian Airlines has a virtual monopoly on Hawaii since they are pretty much only ones (with United) flying there from the lower 48.
    Well, they had better watch their backside, because the instant that they get a chance, Alaska Airlines is planning on having regular flights to Hawaii. Think I'm joking? They already have flights to Miami, New York, and Mexico City(!).

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Outsourcing Staff

    BTW this was Southwest from Phoenix.
    Oy. I've heard bad things about Southwest.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Tech Call Center Drone, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 8:36pm

    Yeah right to ya right.

    I could probably guess which one. And if you hire trash...well, you DO get what you pay for.

    OTOH, I work for a call center (wholesale ISP services, lots of partners) that pays pretty well and actually makes an effort to get their employees to be invested in the success of the company, which means taking care of the customers.

    I've worked for other places that decided to go the low wage route because 'we can just give them a script', and then whined when the high-school kiddies didn't do a good job.

    It sounded a lot like you.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Wendy Pedro, Jul 18th, 2007 @ 3:09am

    Outsourcing call center drives up into airline cus

    Airline company need to work closely with outsourcing company when doing recruitment.One of the critical requirement needed for agent is they have to have airline or travel background as Airline business has lots of specific rules, abbreviation etc,agents who are really green about the rules will leave airline customers put on hold for ages as they are also trying to understand.A specific and very taylor made training for agents are really critical point.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Alaska, Jul 22nd, 2008 @ 7:19pm

    Re: Re: Hawaiian Airlines has a monopoly

    Alaska Airlines does fly to Hawaii from Alaska. Hawaiian no longer does.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Angel, Jul 22nd, 2008 @ 7:29pm

    Call Center

    I worked in the call center of a fairly decent size airline that operated in our state about 15 years ago. Back then it was called just the reservations office. :-) No website at that time. Near the end of the company's existance the average call wait was well over an hour. We had a reader board that flashed how many callers were on hold, it only went to 200 I believe, it was always at 200 regardless of the time of day or night. One of our largest complaints: customers complaining abut the hold time, which actually makes the hold time longer. DUH!

    The company ended up in a position of having to hire any person who could say their own name and could fumble through the reservation system to fill seats in the reservation office. Shamefully the company folded, leaving 150ish people out on the streets (with no pay for the previous 6 weeks) looking for the same 20-30 available jobs. Had they spent more time and money (of course) analyzing the call trends and staffing properly, perhaps the company demise might have taken longer or not happened at all. But when you can't even answer the phone how do you expect to make reservations?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    amit kumar, Jul 23rd, 2008 @ 8:19am

    hindi call center job

    job in hindi call center
    sir , fix job in customer care
    good salery payment

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    call center outsourcing, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    call center

    By the newly elected president of the United States, hope that Obama won’t eradicate the call center outsourcing industry and the millions of people who are working behind it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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