Are partnerships providing a holistic customer experience?

Introduction

We always talk about the importance of providing customers with a seamless customer experience. It never ceases to amaze me how companies (especially ones that rely predominantly on digital channels) can get it so wrong especially when it's so integral to their success.  I personally encountered a completely inconsistent customer experience while planning a holiday to Santorini. Am I overreacting? Read my story and form your own opinion.

How it all started

I recently went on holiday to Santorini, that picturesque Greek island with breathtaking views of the caldera and mesmerising sunsets. I booked the holiday online using Expedia and at the time of booking opted to fly with easyJet.

The booking process was straightforward enough although I had to make sure not to end up with unwanted extras which were preselected when I went through the booking process.  I wasn’t going to fall into Expedia’s trap of cross  and up selling unwanted add-ons!

Where things started going wrong

So now that the flight was booked I could sit back and relax…NOT.   Four weeks after making the booking I randomly logged into my easyJet account and noticed that there were exclamation marks against my flight booking. These exclamation turned out to indicate that my return flight had to be changed (for an unknown reason) and that I needed to select another flight. This was quite unexpected and a little strange. Nevertheless, I went on to select one of the other options and chose an alternative flight. After having done this, I went on to check my email. I was expecting to receive some kind of email confirmation from Expedia or easyJet to confirm that my flight details had been changed. After all customers need reassurance, right? I received nothing. This didn’t inspire much confidence.  Had my flight been changed or not? The flight details had been updated on the easyJet site so I kept telling myself that I was being paranoid. A couple of weeks before I was due to travel I received a reminder from Expedia about my holiday details and lo and behold!  After logging in to my Expedia account it appeared that the flight details had not been updated. Confused.com! So basically easyJet and Expedia were telling me two different stories. Had the changes to my flight been updated or not? Panic! I wasn’t quite sure whether my flight had reverted back to the original one. So I had one option left to settle this. I wanted to speak to a real person. So I resorted to that dreaded channel – the call centre. I had wanted to avoid this at any cost because my general experience with call centres hasn’t been a good one.  With a considerable amount of difficulty I managed to locate a general customer service number on the easyJet site  and surprise surprise I was put on hold for longer than I could bear. I hung up, searched for an email address and promptly emailed easyJet demanding an explanation. I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from customer services within 24 hours informing me that someone would be in touch. Another 24 hours after that and I received confirmation that my return flight details had indeed been changed. Excellent.  Panic over. I’m delighted to say that the holiday was one of the best I ever had and I returned home without any hassle.

Final Thoughts

When I sat back and relived the chain of events I thought to myself that so much of this angst could have been avoided if Expedia and easyJet had more of a seamless relationship. The easyJet flight was part of the Expedia “package” but from my experience, it came across as a disjointed offering or at least that was my perception. The left hand clearly wasn’t talking to the right. Also why didn’t easyJet or Expedia send me an email to inform me that my flight details needed to be changed? And why didn’t I receive an email to confirm the changes that I had made? Customers need to be reassured through feedback.  I mean, imagine being stranded whilst on holiday! Part of the customer journey I experienced was siloed, inconsistent and overall confusing.  My experience and the possible consequences only goes to show how important it is to have a holistic customer experience. The various channels which companies employ to touch their customers need to work in harmony NOT against each other. They are the strings to their bows and should be used to enhance the customer experience.   I rest my case…

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