It was a beautiful Monday morning and I was setting up my booth at the TechAdvantage Conference and Expo in Orlando, FL. I had just sent my wife a text bragging about the temperature being in the 80s, as I knew it was cold back in Kansas. Little did I know “The Perfect Storm” was brewing.
During setup that morning, a fellow vendor stopped by to say hello. We exchanged the usual: “When did you arrive?”, “When do you fly back?” and “Where did you fly out of?”. I explained I had flown in last night out of Denver and was returning Wednesday evening after the conference. He asked if I had checked the weather as the weatherman was forecasting a blizzard throughout the Midwest on Wednesday. I opened my weather app and confirmed blizzard conditions throughout the Midwest about the time I should be in the air. I checked my airline app and noticed a warning suggesting I reschedule my flight due to forecasted blizzard conditions. I figured I would keep an eye on the storm and decide later that day or Tuesday on rebooking. After all, I was flying into Denver and they are used to snow. How bad could it be?
Tuesday, I made the decision to change my return flight myself before the airline did it for me. I moved my flight from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning, thinking it would give the airport time to dig out. With my flight rescheduled, I only had to find a place to stay Wednesday night. I checked with the front desk, and since it was spring break, my hotel was full. “Not a problem,” I thought to myself, “I will find something closer to the airport, making it an easy commute Thursday morning.”
After the conference on Wednesday afternoon, I transferred to my new hotel and walked next door to a local fish house for dinner. While eating dinner and talking to the locals; I saw a news flash on TV that the FAA had grounded all the Boeing 737-Max planes, canceling flights across the US. “The Perfect Storm” just hit! I opened the airline app and confirmed; my Thursday morning flight had been canceled. I called the airline to reschedule, but after 10 minutes of repeated dialing and busy signals, I resorted back to the airline’s app. The earliest flight available was Saturday morning, so I booked it thinking if something better opened, I could reschedule. Wednesday night I laid awake until around 4:30 a.m. when I tried calling the airline again. My call rang through, and after routing myself through their voicemail system, I was placed on hold, only to hear the estimated hold time was 115 minutes. I hung up and accepted the fact that I was stuck in Florida for several more days. That morning, I tried to extend my stay at the hotel for two more nights, but they too were full, and I had to move hotels again.
I reached out to my wife letting her know I was stuck in Florida, but she wasn’t too sympathetic. This all sounded rather appealing to her. I knew exactly what she would do, she would lounge by the pool reading a book. I worked Thursday morning from my hotel, did laundry that afternoon and sent a snap to my wife of me lounging by the pool with a six pack of a local brew in place of her book. Thursday evening while eating dinner and talking with the locals; I checked the airline app again and surprisingly I was able to book a 6:00 a.m. flight Friday morning. Yes! I was headed home!
As I reflect on this experience I can only think about how much better my customer experience would have been if I had received some sort of communication from the airline. Not once did I receive a call, text or email letting me know my flights were canceled. If I had not checked the app, I would have been stuck at the airport instead of by the pool.
During service-impacting events, good communication is key. As an outsourced NOC provider, Nex-Tech’s fully-staffed 24x7 NOC can be your first response and high level of communication to your customers during service-impacting events on your network. For more information on how our NOC can provide your customers better communication, please contact me, Doug Kuntz, Carrier Access Manager, at 785-754-3100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.