The Paradox of Customer Service

Early this month on the 6th of September, I was traveling to Paris from Bangalore. I have by now stopped expecting anything dramatic with respect to Customer Service from Air France. I was perplexed when I heard a cheerful captain speaking good English as we landed at the Charles De Gaulle airport, moving towards our gate, on-time and describing the landscape around including pointing out the latest Airbus 380 with the Singapore Airline insignia on it. As we approached the gate, we had to wait for nearly half an hour as there were no ground staff to attend (at 08:30 AM). The captain kept us amused with his magic tricks and the cabin crew kept telling all us passengers milled around the door that it was not Air France but the airport ground staff that was responsible for this delay. However, all the passengers including myself were kept in good humor and especially impressed with the Captain’s multi-skills.

I left the aircraft and reached the immigration counter and realized that I had left my suit garment bag next to my seat on the plane. I cleared immigration and immediately walked out to the Air France ground staff office and complained about the same. First a lady attended to me and then handed me over just as soon as her break appeared. This other person started all over and finally, they could not get me my garment bag despite the fact that I had complained about it 5 minutes from deplaning the aircraft.

So there it goes; I am elated that somehow Air France is getting it together by noticing the air crew and then it just gets dashed by the ground staff. Indifferent and insensitive, does this airline deserve  to be profitable and getting public money to pay the salaries of its employees; only to insult and dis-respect the very same paying passengers? I salute the Captain and the Crew of Flight 191 on September 06, 2009 from Bangalore to Paris as individual members who are outstanding people, perhaps in the wrong organization?

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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