Posts Tagged IVR

The World’s Favorite Airline – Not Today!

BA5I’ve travelled with British Airways a lot with business and pleasure over the years and I have to say my experience has generally been positive … until yesterday!

I’m off to New York on a short break with the family and my story begins upon receipt of the email from BA that check in is now open, yay!

Now, the trip involves two flights, one from NCL to LHR and then a second from LHR to JFK. I check into the LHR flight just fine, selecting new seats and printing boarding passes, great. I then check into the JFK flight, select new seats so the kids can have window seats, but is time I can’t print boarding passes, and I get an error message saying I have to go to the check in desk at the airport. This is odd as it’s never happened to me before so I pick up the phone to BA and this is where my poor experience begins…

I have to say that I found the BA IVR experience very poor… as someone who runs a large call centre telephony platform I appreciate the need for IVR, but I also know you need to put a lot of work into making them work well. It’s very obvious that the BA contact model is to push you to their digital channels and they don’t want you to ring them. Again I can appreciate that they are trying to manage costs and people manning telephony lines are very expensive.

However, support lines are very busy estimating a 50 minute wait so I give up. Instead I speculatively ask a question on twitter as to what the error message means. I’m really impressed with the speed of their response, this confirms to me the power of digital and social channels over traditional methods of contact…

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I send them my flight number, but then they start to concern me with their next tweet.

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So I do just that and contact my booking agent ‘Trailfinders’ who check everything out from their end and it looks just fine, no problems. I tweet back BA that the booking agent can’t see anything wrong at their end… again BA come back quickly with the even more worrying response of…

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Now I’m thinking I’ll not be going to New York and so I ring back the booking agent who told me they would ring BA on my behalf… A little later the booking agent rings me back in a pretty annoyed state to tell me that they got through to BA after 45 minutes wait only for the BA agent to tell them they only speak to customers and promptly put the phone down on them. However, the booking agent then told me that they were ringing them back to complain about the hanging up and to escalate the call.

I sent another tweet to BA ask for more information but no reply this time… 😦

Whist this is going on I try again to print the boarding passes and I find that I can print one of the passes but not the others. So I log out and log back in again and this time I can print a couple of the other passes, log off and on again and then I can print the final pass. However, I’m still a little confused as the travel itinerary hasn’t updated with seat numbers etc.

Trailfinders ring back to say that they have finally spoken to someone at BA who would listen to them, and that they confirmed we were listed on the JFK flight. That brings us to the end of Saturday and I’m pretty confident we’ve done all we could to give us the peace of mind we were after.

Sunday morning arrives and low and behold I have a text waiting on my phone to say the LHR flight has been cancelled. Now, this is a huge disappointment but not really a surprise as BA have a tendency in my experience to pull the NCL-LHR flights all too often.

Time to ring the call centre, fight my way through the IVR (option 5 then option 1 is what you need in this instance), and speak to a very helpful chap who re-lists us on a later flight albeit much tighter for the connection, but promises us that BA will re-list us for a later NY flight should we miss the connection. He also says we need to go and check in for the re listed flight as this wouldn’t be done automatically.

A few minutes later I log onto BA.COM and I see the new flight, but it won’t let me check in! So I ring BA again… (option 5 and option 1) and I speak to another helpful agent who tells me we can’t check in online as he’d have to drop us off both flights in order for us to check in to the LHR flight and there would be a chance that we would lose our seat reservations on the JFK flight and the best thing to do would be to arrive at the airport check in desk where they have more options to check us iThat’s the story bang up to date… booking this holiday seemed like a good idea at the time, but I have to say our initial joy and excitement of looking forward to this break for quite some time has turned into quite a stressful experience and we haven’t even left the house yet!

I do hope this is the last you’ll hear about this particular journey!

Updated … A much better experience from arrival at the airport onwards. Check in staff were excellent, everything was sorted out swiftly, we made the connection to JFK and were delighted to discover we had been upgraded.

 

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