By William Seidman Can great customer service overcome bad corporate decisions and policies? Delta has some of the lowest customer service ratings of any major airline and is putting all ground personnel through remedial customer service training to try to improve its GPA. Delta admits that there are some corporate policies that cause real problems for customers and the agents who must serve them. For example: Customers are charged $20 per checked bag, resulting in more carry-on luggage than ever before. There’s more time spent going through security: all that baggage for the TSA to scan and inspect.  Result? Delayed and unhappy customers. When customers are told to gate-check their carry-on luggage they often find that the overhead bins are full. Since this happens almost always at the last minute, people have become separated from critical medicines for the duration of the flight. Result? Unhappy customers. Customer service agents often must tell customers who are running a bit late that they won’t get through security in time to make their flight. (All that carry-on luggage, again.) Result? Unhappy customers in need of rebooking and (sometimes) rerouting. Delta had the highest rate of cancelled flights of any carrier in 2010. Not good. Customers get angry at the agents, who must communicate and remediate corporate policies over which they have no control. Friendly and competent customer service can help but if the problems are, in fact, caused by unpopular corporate decisions, trying to put a spin on the problem rarely works. The real issue is whether leadership can understand that poor corporate policies make good customer service especially hard to provide, and make some changes at the top.]]>

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