05 Jun What the Heck is HUCA? Getting the Customer Service you Deserve
Calling airlines can be incredibly frustrating. Different answers, fees at every turn, long waits, lots of “you can’t do that”.
Airlines are enormously complex beasts — just watch a ground crew prepare a flight to departure and think about how many processes happen for just that one piece of airline operations. It’s a marvel to me that flights get off at all, never mind that pilots, air traffic control, dispatch, passenger services, and gate agents all have and execute their own complicated activities.
Unfortunately, front line customer service aren’t always the airlines’ strong suit — and they haven’t been helped by their executive suites in recent times. Airline mergers — like American and US Airways or United and Continental — are less-than-optimal for employees and the customers. Merging established teams at established airlines and force-integrating their processes, their cultures, and their technologies, puts a lot of additional stress in an environment that’s already pretty stressful. The results aren’t always pretty.
So when you called last week and got a surly employee providing an incorrect answer, just know you are not alone.
But there is good news. There isn’t an airline that doesn’t have awesome employees who genuinely want to help you however they can — you just have to help them. How do you do this?
- HUCA. Hang up, call again. It’s a basic tenant of getting what you know is right — be polite, end the call that’s going badly and simply call again. If the queues are long, use the international call trick. But just bail out of a bad call — there’s no upside to staying on.
- Help the agent help you. Know what is available to you — whether it’s finding alternate flights on ExpertFlyer or understanding the flexibilities (or limitations) of your fare class, knowing the options makes for a far more satisfying and efficient call for everyone
- Be crisp. Think bullet points for background and only those things that are relevant to what you’re asking for.
- Ask for what you want — but be open to alternatives. Sometimes what you want simply isn’t possible but if you already have secondary options or think there might be some, help the agent work through those.
- Always be polite. Your mother expects it of you but, more importantly, it’s just the right thing to do. If you’re still not getting the help you need, simply HUCA.
Sometimes you just have to do a little meditation before picking up the phone – particularly if you need to change a lot. But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again — you’ll be amazed at the results.