A Tale of Customer Data Use Gone Wrong

Lesley MattI recently booked a trip using one of the major travel sites. I was very excited and already packing my bags until I noticed one minor flaw in my confirmation email: I didn’t have hotel confirmation number for the hotel I had booked. Now, booking travel is something I do on a regular basis for both personal and professional needs, so I was a tad concerned when I didn’t have a magic reservation number for the hotel.
After more than a little looking, and no luck finding the elusive reservation number, I decided to send the travel site an email as this wasn’t an emergency and I didn’t really want to call and speak with a customer service person. I logged in and shot off a quick email about my lack of reservation number. I immediately got the auto-responder thanking me for contacting them and I would receive a response in 24 hours. That’s when everything started to go downhill for me. See, the travel site then decided to send me what felt like a million (it was really five, but still) emails about all the special deals for my next trip and all the fun things I could book with my current trip. Typically I would be ok with this, but it didn’t feel right seeing as I had a trip on file and an issue with that reservation.

The next morning I woke up to a “fantastic” email telling me that I had to call customer service to find out about my reservation. At this point I was more than a little upset as I didn’t really want to call customer service and have to go through endless prompts only to reach a person that I can barely understand on the other end of the phone. But, in the meantime I had received more emails about travel specials, deals and other awesomeness that they just couldn’t wait to send me. I was completely frustrated and unsubscribed from all of their emails.

The moral of this story is to (like we’ve said a lot) make good use of the customer data you have. If you were this major travel site who I have planned multiple trips with, you know what a typical year in travel looks like for me. You would also know that I have never booked a new trip while I already had one planned. You would know that I typically do not jump on specials and that I take my time to research where I want to go. You would also know that I never call your customer care line for booking travel and when I have called I have complained about the service that I had received. Having so much data around one person is the ideal situation for a marketer to deliver the best possible customer experience. So my question to that big travel site is, why not use the data you have? Turn off the promotional messages (especially when you see someone has an unresolved issue in the system) and focus on the overall customer experience. In this day and age when the customer has so many choices, a company has to rely on the best possible customer experience to keep their customers happy.

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