A United Rep spoke at FTU this morning

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Wandering Aramean, Apr 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,215
    Likes Received:
    61,743
    Status Points:
    20,020
    One of the folks in the Customer Experience group (among other things, responsible for managing the UA Insider accounts) showed up as a somewhat last-minute surprise for the FTU event in Jersey this weekend. He took the mic around 10am and was willing to answer questions and take the venting of folks for about 90 minutes.

    I don't think that the content was particularly surprising - they admitted that they still have issues with transparency and other aspects of the upgrade systems, for example - but it was also somewhat educational and disappointing to hear that most of the reported issues don't seem to come with sufficient details quickly enough to actually be able to trace what's happening.

    The social media team was slammed pretty hard (deservedly so, IMO) for being relatively unresponsive and not particularly forward in their efforts.

    I found it quite interesting to hear the answer to what he thought was key to loyalty:
    They are definitely fighting an up-hill battle on that front.

    I wrote up some more of the comments and quotes from United about the integration progress here.
     
  2. rizwank

    rizwank Silver Member

    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    149
    Status Points:
    350
    Thanks for reporting on this. Glad someone I trust is at FTU; I'm hearing all about it, wish I had gone.
     
    Flyer1976 likes this.
  3. chitownflyer
    Original Member

    chitownflyer Silver Member

    Messages:
    982
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Status Points:
    870
    Thanks for the info. I think what UA elites wish to see from the combined CO-UA and the new United is that they listen and fix issues that arise. TOD upgrades, the immediate posting of SWUs(with no option to request an early deposit or wait until their posting the following year) which reduces their time of validity, benefit reductions to the MM program, and the inability to request an upgrade less than 24 hours before a flight are all items that the new United should be able to address. A happy customer is likely to remain a loyal customer. It seems there are quite a few UA elites who are open to taking up AA's match of elite status.
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Looking at

    http://milepoint.com/forums/members/ua-insider.3649/

    (posting tab), the last post (other than an advertisement for the Club VISA card on 3/27) by UA Insider here on this site was on March 4!

    #fail

    (ventured over to Flyertalk. While not quite as extreme, the last post there was April 15).
     
    Infinite1K and Flyer1976 like this.
  5. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    I did get a PM response from UA Insider this weekend, though.
     
  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Sure, I realize they are lurking and apparently also answering PMs. But that's not quite what I consider an effective social media presence (I am considering MP/FT part of the social media universe).
     
    mrredskin and EWR764 like this.
  7. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,215
    Likes Received:
    61,743
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Keep in mind that their presence in the "expert communities" is actually a separate operation from their true social media efforts. Maybe not the correct way to run things, but that's how it is right now.

    The Insider team isn't here to be acting like a concierge or direct line to rez/MPSC for us. A lot of folks have been assuming that's their role. It isn't what they see it as so it shouldn't be surprising that there is some misconnecting there.
     
  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    IMO, the internal organizational structure at UA shouldn't really be exposed to customers. In any case, I don't think they have communicated any better with the expert communities than with the general customer base.

    Apparently (based on the posting(s) of the last month or so), it's to promote credit cards :D

    I actually don't expect them to deal with my personal problems. I sent my one issue to 1KVoice and while it took nearly a month to get a response, I never even considered using UA Insider. But surely they could provide generic updates about what's going on at United? Things that ultimately got bundled into that mass email to everyone last week.

    Given that they don't post here during this fairly critical time, I have to admit I don't quite understand WHAT their role is here.
     
    unavaca, JLSocks and Infinite1K like this.
  9. Flyer1976
    Original Member

    Flyer1976 Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,247
    Likes Received:
    33,912
    Status Points:
    20,020
    What concerns me the most is ...

    While I have personally seen the improvements that the new United has in Irregular Operations handling and they have taken care of me considerably. However the bottom line still stands that there are many things they are lacking in that shouldn't be required on the pro-activeness of the customer to take care of things that a major airline should be able to take care of immediately.
     
  10. EWR764
    Original Member

    EWR764 Silver Member

    Messages:
    486
    Likes Received:
    580
    Status Points:
    670
    I have two issues right now: 1) the cheapness of the product and 2) the paucity of communication on the multitude of merger-related issues. (I also have a problem with front-line morale but with so many CBAs currently in negotiation you have to assume some of the dissent is a result of union posturing... joint contracts will cure many of these ills)

    As to item #1, the CO strategy for quite some time has been like a "salami-slicing" ripoff... save a couple of pennies here and there hoping the customer won't notice. They've gotten through the low-hanging fruit, so now when it comes to things like meals, pillows, blankets, etc., there is little left to to cut, and the changes become noticeable to the traveler. There's not much about the inflight product that I would say is high-quality, besides the people. At some point, customers won't be willing to pay for it.

    For #2, that's been beaten to death, and it's admirable for someone from Chicago to come down and face a near-certain public flogging. At the very least, it can clue the company in to issues it clearly is missing. UA simply needs to communicate more often, through more channels, more effectively. The radio silence only serves to rile up passengers even more, especially when the lack of feedback is in connection with a customer service issue.

    Finally, I hope they take a page from Delta's social media strategy. UA's perfunctory presence on Facebook and Twitter results in the company foregoing an inexpensive, yet wildly effective way to promote the positive aspects of the product. It's shocking that in this day and age, a major company can miss the boat on social media quite so badly.
     
    unavaca, Flyer1976, AZjohn and 4 others like this.
  11. Infinite1K
    Original Member

    Infinite1K Silver Member

    Messages:
    928
    Likes Received:
    1,161
    Status Points:
    810
    That sounds like a super efficient and scalable way of addressing all the problems of United flyers.
     
    EWR764 and HaveMilesWillTravel like this.
  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Could you or anyone else here explain what the mission of the Customer Experience group is (beyond their FT/MP presence and going to meetings like the one today to get beaten up)?
     
  13. Minnesota Bruin
    Original Member

    Minnesota Bruin Silver Member

    Messages:
    502
    Likes Received:
    1,044
    Status Points:
    845
    I read on your blog comments that it was Carlos who was brought to the slaughter. I hope you guys weren't too rough! ;) Carlos is great advocate and talking to him I've gotten the feeling that he really, really cares about the FT/MP communities.
     
  14. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Despite your snark, one of the stated problems is that people complain on the forums and never PM the necessary information to UA Insider for them to look into the issue. Or, if they do, it's outside the stated window in which it could be investigated.

    As a QA person, I've seen this happen more than once, so I fully believe that a lot of people are complaining in deliberately non-useful ways and failing to be a part of the solution. I have little sympathy for their repeated pain.

    My report was, as one might expect, very specific, along with my intuition about what the source of the problem might be, what the timing issue might be that led to it, and the PNR so they could investigate further.

    So, in my case, it is way more efficient and scaleable, thank you very much.
     
    LETTERBOY likes this.
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    While I understand what you're saying (I am not in QA, but I am at times on the receiving end of bugs and know something about poorly reported bugs), there are two things I'd like to point out:

    1. Did UA explain here in public threads for what problems they need reproducible test cases? Given that they didn't actually post since March 4, my hunch is they didn't.

    2. Customers aren't UA''s QA staff. I *never* complain when my customers report an issue without providing all the information I ideally need for troubleshooting. it's not their job. They aren't paid to be QA (on the contarry, as customers they PAID for experiencing the problem). They aren't trained to do that.

    So quite frankly I think it's neither wise nor appropriate for UA to complain about not getting enough information.
     
    desamo likes this.
  16. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    On FT, they did, saying there was about a 24-hour window in which they could investigate things like ToD upgrade claims (among other things). link here

    That wasn't how it was presented, and I agree with you. On the other hand, as a QA person, it's incredibly frustrating when someone claims to have reproduced a problem more than once and doesn't give sufficient information to see if it is in fact the kind of problem the customer thinks it is. Sometimes customers do discover bugs, and (imho) they're more likely to discover interesting edge case.

    As an example of one issue that many have complained about, Carlos mentioned that when they had looked into the ToD upgrade problems that had been reported, apart from a couple of exceptions (one of which they posted about in painstaking detail having to do with NYC as a city), it generally had been an M-up fare difference for an elite where a person of lesser status would have a higher upgrade offer.

    Without the specific data for that specific flight and the offer, there's no way to investigate if there was some pricing shenanigans or not. Without that data, then, the customer's still upset for reasons they believe are correct, where if they had provided it, then maybe they'd get an explanation (as some have via PM) for the calculations demonstrating it wasn't a bug.

    Which is a long way of saying: not every perceived bug actually is one; that sword cuts both ways.
     
  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    I don't read all the stuff on FT anymore. Life's short.

    I reported an upgrade problem with all the necessary details to 1K Voice within 24 hrs of the flight. I got a reply after nearly four weeks that apologized, gave me compensation... and didn't even comment on the actual issue and what's being done about it. I understand and appreciate they are swamped. And the compensation was generous. But...

    And in the past (PMUA) I have had similar experiences with 1K Voice where I documented an obvious bug in excruciating detail (even offering a series of screenshots), asking to have it forwarded to the IT/web department. Reply from 1K Voice: sorry, it works correctly. Apparently, according to 1K Voice, permanent legal residents of the US need proof of a return ticket and thus can't be allowed to check in online for flights to the US (utter nonsense, of course). Long thread about this issue with many people reporting the same somewhere on FT. So quite frankly, my desire to spend a lot of time working with UA (per- or post-merger) is somewhat limited. Fortunately so far my issues have been limited in scope and severity.
     
    desamo likes this.
  18. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Completely understood.

    I don't know what's being done about specific cases. In my case, I was reporting a phone call bug that didn't affect operations, so I don't need an answer (or compensation); acknowledgment was enough. If it happens again (unlikely), I will report it.

    I can understand that. In that case, I'd probably have followed up with a top-down note to Smisek.
     
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  19. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    It was Pre-Merger, so can't really blame him for it.

    If there was a real bug/issue reporting system that allowed me to track the status and provide information if developers/analysts investigating the issue needed more than I originally provided, I'd be more than happy to spend the time reporting any issues I run into (I've seen quite a few on the new website). But that doesn't exist. And so based on past experience (see above) I use my time for other things.

    (kind of surprising actually, given that CO had a preview (beta) website to give a few customers early access to new features..)
     
    desamo likes this.
  20. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Another thing said about some of the ToD upgrade research I thought was interesting: Carlos pointed out that there were markets where the M fares were substantially cheaper relative to the average, and, for 1Ks and above (who are eligible for M-up fares), the ToD upgrade offers were often small sums, and that led to a lot of reports.

    For those kinds of fares, I would be (were I a 1K) inclined to take those offers because of the earning differential in RDMs and PQMs rather than holding out for the CPU -- if the cost per mile were an acceptable difference. eta: ignore due to lack of sleep on my part

    I agree, that would be really cool, but it also requires significant infrastructure. On the other hand, web site issues typically aren't as time-critical as flight-specific information (like ToD upgrade reports).

    In general, I think most of the elites would prefer to have the stuff that's more difficult to research fixed first: why didn't my upgrade clear, ToD research, PNR splits, instruments not being returned promptly, etc.

    Doesn't really surprise me, though it'd be nice if there were a formal process to interact with the people who make the changes.
     
  21. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,215
    Likes Received:
    61,743
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Minor point of clarity, but the M fares earn the same as lower ones; only B and above get more PQMs.
     
  22. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Oh, right. You're not buying up into the higher-than-M fare class. That was lack of sleep on my part. :(
     
  23. HeathrowGuy
    Original Member

    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

    Messages:
    7,131
    Likes Received:
    10,591
    Status Points:
    12,520
    I have the highest respect for the work of the UA Insider team. In fairness to "us", alternative proactive approaches to troubleshooting the inevitable post-PSS issues were posited to United prior to the cutover, and were not implemented or acknowledged.

    Instead of those approaches, the company elected to take the reactive approach of waiting for customers to repeatedly report problems, guaranteeing weak data collection (given the time sensitive action windows), and leading to the confidence-lacking admission that the airline knows some things are not working right but is uncertain as to the root cause of the problems or how to fix them.
     
    JLSocks likes this.
  24. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Another interesting moment: Carlos asked how many in the room were on Twitter. Nearly every hand went up. Carlos took a picture to show the brass.
     
  25. legalalien
    Original Member

    legalalien Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,536
    Likes Received:
    9,301
    Status Points:
    7,770

    Not exactly representative of the general population. :) He might have as well asked how many know what Z fares are, and nearly every hand would have gone up, but that doesn't mean average passenger will have any idea. I guess the idea might be that even if FTU attendees aren't representative of the general flying public, they are influential?

    I am on Twitter, but I don't consider it a particularly good way to provide customer service or to disseminate any sort of information beyond IRROPs status updates and links to press releases: few problems can be adequately described or addressed in 140 characters.
     

Share This Page