Organizations like airlines and large hotels provide services to many customers on a daily basis. It is not surprising that sometimes things go wrong. Very often this kind of service deficiency results in inconvenience or loss to people. Yet, many people tend to put up with inconveniences and small losses because they don’t feel that they stand much of a chance when it comes to finding a resolution or getting compensation. For most people, trying to get compensation for small deficiencies of service from airlines and hotels is like banging their head against a brick wall, but it does not have to be that way.
It is true that customer service is often not the strong point of a large organization, especially in these days when customer service is often outsourced. However, it is possible to get solutions for your problems or compensation for the inconvenience caused if you do it the right way.
Be clear about what you are trying to accomplish
There are two types of problems that you can face with such organizations. The first one is a problem that is just a one-time issue. Most service deficiencies like being asked to occupy a less than satisfactory room or not getting your meal preference fall into this category. They are not likely to happen again. Some other problems are likely to remain if they are not addressed, for example, misbehavior on the part of a staff member.
What to do in case you have a problem
For small service deficiencies, an email complaint through the website addressed to the customer relations describing the problem and the solution that you expect should be the first line of action. You can then continue the communication until you get a satisfactory solution or explanation.
For serious issues with airlines, use the feedback form which most airlines have on their website if the problem occurs in the aircraft or if you don’t have the time to personally speak to the station manager right away.
For problems that happen at the airport, contacting the station manager is the best thing to do, provided you have time at your disposal. Complaints raised via the feedback form usually go to the highest levels and will be taken seriously.
In case of problems at hotels, contact the concerned manager on duty right away. If they are not available or are unable to resolve the issue, you can escalate the problem to the General Manager. If you agree to a workaround or degraded service, it may be deemed as your acceptance.
Be specific and focused
While making a complaint, be focused on the main issue that you are trying to address, so that the response is related only to that issue. It is best not to include other minor annoyances because if you do, there is a chance that your main issue will be sidetracked.
Be assertive and polite
Customer relations personnel deal with such issues on a daily basis and they themselves usually are not part of the problem. Many people unfortunately vent their anger at these people, which is not only unfair, but also unproductive. Impolite or a sarcastic way of communication only makes them label you as a difficult customer. Also, make sure that you are addressing the company and not the person at all times.
Insist on a solution
It is not uncommon for customer relations people to reply with a cut and paste answer that is not helpful. This is their first line of defense to pacify you with the hope that you won’t persist. If you don’t see a solution to your problem, follow up on the complaint. When you do they will understand that you are serious about a resolution and you will get a serious answer.
Be clear with what type of compensation you are looking for
You must understand that airlines and hotels usually don’t pay monetary compensation as many service deficiencies are excluded in the fine print. However, they are wary of damage to their reputation and will compensate you if they feel that you have a genuine case.
Compensation is usually in the form of a free or discounted ticket on the same sector with a limited validity or a discount on the next hotel booking. Monetary compensation will always be paid according to their terms and conditions, for example, payment for lost baggage by weight.
Talk to the customer relations agents
If written channels don’t work, you can try talking to the agents or the manager in person or over the phone. On the phone people are often more understanding. They are able to explain things without going on record and they will either do their best to solve the issue, or will honestly tell you why they are unable to do anything about it.
Make use of the internet
Social media like Twitter, online review sites and complaint forums are watched by organizations who care for their reputation. So if everything else fails, you can use them to your advantage. You will almost always get a response and resolution. Airlines and hotels usually have dedicated personnel to take care of their online reputation.
Get the regulator involved
If the problem is too serious or if you incur a big loss and you don’t get an acceptable solution or compensation, don’t hesitate to go to the concerned regulatory body like the Department of Transportation. Airlines get penalized both for causing the problem and not offering a satisfactory resolution. So your complaint will be taken seriously.
The next time you feel that your hotel or airline has not given you acceptable service, don’t suffer in silence. Ask for a compensation because taking up the issue not only gives you peace of mind, it also helps the organization improve their service levels.
Warrem is a passionate blogger and a workers compensation specialist.