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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shame on you Delta Airlines

Delta Grade for
Customer Relationship Management
Today I read an article on ABC News about Delta changing their frequent flyer policy.  It is entitled:

Changes to Frequent Flier Programs Could Mean the End of 'Mileage Runs'

Uh, no..... but it could end the run of loyalty on Delta Airlines.

I have long been a fan of Delta and at one point was even Platinum.  All things being equal (aka not having to go through Atlanta), I would still choose Delta, but this latest move ruffled my feathers.

I remember aspiring to that rank before I realized that it equates to never seeing my family due to being on the road.  The notion that people do "mileage runs" for fun is truly offensive to those of us that have logged nearly a million miles in our careers.

In 1997, after a long time trying to have a baby, I finally conceived my daughter Kiera.  We had spent a boatload on specialists and so when I found out that I was pregnant, I stopped traveling, just to be safe.

Hear me out.  I didn't stop traveling on Delta.  I stopped traveling period.  By the end of the year, with absolutely no communication with me, they knocked me down to Gold status.

Shortly thereafter, we moved from Atlanta to Tampa.  At first I thought it would work out well, as there are so many Platinum and Gold Medallion members in Delta's home base of Atlanta, I thought that being Gold in Tampa would surely be to my advantage in a smaller market.  Wrong.

Nevertheless, since I am a consultant, I kept flying and since my firm was the general contractor, building LasVegas.com, I racked up a lot of miles that year and quickly regained my platinum status.  Whew.

Wrong again.  In 2003, after failing at conceiving a second child, we adopted a 3 year old boy from Russia.   Once we brought him home in March, I agreed to curtail my travel and stay home to get Sergey adjusted to the US and his new life.

January 2004, renewal packet comes in and I have been busted down not to Gold, but to Silver.  Ouch.  In Tampa, that doesn't even get you a center seat in coach as an upgrade....

I quickly got on the phone with rival Continental and asked if they wanted my business.  I sent them my previous year DL statement which showed my Platinum level travel and they happily made me Platinum on Continental.

So why the ancient history?

It is so easy to treat your customers right if you just talk to them.  

If after hundreds of thousands of miles flown on your airline, you suddenly see the miles drop to zero (or minimal activity), you should be on the phone asking if you did something wrong to make the person switch, or if their is an illness or extenuating circumstance (birth of a child, adoption, etc.).

And after spending over $100 million on their new website, it is unconscionable that Delta should make a policy change that will only hurt its best and most loyal customers.

The website by the way, while beautiful, should NEVER have cost that much - and when I heard about it I quipped about building it for $80 million.

Customer Relationship Management 101 - Talk to your customers and when you need to raise profitability, don't ding your best customers to do it.  It is bad form and it is bad business.

To read the whole ABC article by Rick Seaney of Farecompare.com click HERE.


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