CRM at Indian Airlines

by Vinaya HS on October 25, 2006

in Travel

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I have both good news and bad news about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) at Indian Airlines.

First the good part. Indian Airlines a.k.a Indian seems to have successfully revitalized it’s brand – and this is reflected in the overall customer experience. It’s a good example of what competition can force you to become. The online reservation system, a prime customer touchpoint, has improved leaps. Earlier it used to ask you to provide the date of booking in order to retrieve your e-ticket. It’s one thing to remember your date of travel, but who in this information-deluged world can remember the exact date of booking? Thankfully, that quirk’s gone now. You no longer need to remember the exact date of booking the ticket.

There’s a cheery youthful spirit that’s evident when you ring up their call centres. The customer service representatives are quite helpful and understanding. The calls are immediately answered – once you get past the menu of choices. I am yet to experience that ludicrous “We are sorry. All our officers are currently busy. Your call is important to us. Please wait…blah blah blah” robotic-voiced message. If my call is so important to you, then why make me wait? Let me know if you have faced such a situation with Indian Airlines.

And the bad part. I wanted to prepone my tickets by a day. Being an e-ticket holder, I was asked to get this change done at the airport. At the airport, I was asked to do this online myself! If I could do it online myself why for heaven’s sake would I even come down to the airport? It’s not like I have some obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to visit Indian Airlines counters. I heard none of that nonsense and forced them to make the change.

The Indian Airlines counters are an engineering marvel. There’s a glass partition separating you and the staff. There’s a tiny hole drilled through it at a height of about 3 to 4 feet. You are supposed to have two-way communications through this hole. If you’re over 5 feet tall, you’re neck’s going to have a good physical workout. While the counter-personnel speak from inside, there are simultaneous announcements outside over the loudspeakers, thereby rendering vocal communications useless. It’s a great place to become adept at sign language.

And the icing on the CRM cake? I flew down to Bangalore on the night of the 14th. Indian Airlines staff called me on the 15th. The conversation goes like this:

“Sir, your flight to Bangalore has been delayed by two hours.”
“Well, I am already in Bangalore.”
“Oh…you’re already in Bangalore Sir?”
“Yeah. I got my tickets preponed. Isn’t your system updated?”
“Hmmm…no sir. Anyway, thank you.”

That’s CRM for you. While the overall customer experience is satisfactory, there’s quite a lot of room for improvement.

This post also completes my outlined plan. I posted everything I promised and more, albeit one little post on Deepavali. The reason being, I was not able to capture any photographs during the festival days. Apologize for that one. Hopefully the coming week is going to be equally good in terms of posting frequency. I am off to Mumbai this Sunday night. There’s just a glimmer of my being irregular nearing Sunday, but I’ll try my best not to be.

There’s going to be a big scoop on the GEO blog. I finally took the plunge and got myself a new shiny-black 80GB iPod! And it rocks! Stay tuned for a review.

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