Sure, Alaska Listens, But do they Care?

After nearly 4 years of living in Seattle and flying Alaska Airlines almost exclusively, here are a few of my thoughts when it comes to their customer service.
Among the many things I like about Alaska, like their delivering a pizza to my house, or their awesome 20-minute bag guarantee, or their giving away thousands of free flights, there’s one thing I love the most above all. That one thing is the way they have treated me since the first time I flew them. It is almost… familial, in the same way you feel when you visit your grandma, who gives you cookies and tells you how thin you look even when you’ve put on 20 pounds in the past six months.

Alaska Air Listens Survey

I got to Gold 75K with them shortly after we moved to Seattle since we travel a lot just enough. The treatment kept getting better as I went up the elite levels. And I don’t mean just the treatment onboard. Their customer service call center, especially the dedicated 75K line, is very responsive and quite useful. Whether you need to correct a name on your reservation, or you totally screwed up you whole family’s tickets and need help to sort it out. They talk to you as a human being and are willing to put their best foot forward, fully explain, and even sometimes make exceptions that other companies wouldn’t.

It’s a level of service I love and have come to expect every time I interact with any Alaska Air employee. It is the level of service that sets our own organic, non-GMO, free range, cage-free Alaska apart from other more ‘corporate’ airlines.

So why am I always frustrated after filling out an Alaska Listens survey?

It occurred to me to go back to some of the emails I have received from their customer service center to try to figure it out.

Disclaimer: I’m only including some examples here and this isn’t the totality of my exchanges with them. I have filled out plenty of Alaska Listens surveys with excellent feedback, for which no followups were required. I don’t want y’all to think all I do is bitch even if it feels that way sometimes πŸ™‚

  1. After submitting an Alaska Listens about a really rude flight attendant in First Class:

    Alaska Listens Templated Response

    Alaska Listens Templated Response

  2. After submitting an Alaska Listens about my eternal struggle with them serving 50 shades of chicken and not offering their fruit and cheese platter as a free option in First.

    Alaska Listens Templated Response

    Alaska Listens Templated Response

  3. After submitting an Alaska Listens survey about their Gogo service being unavailable during the whole flight, as well as their Beyond entertainment system and not having tablets on offer.

    Alaska Listens Templated Response

    Alaska Listens Templated Response

All of them contain the following phrase or a very slight variation of it:

By taking the time to contact us and giving us your feedback, you have not only given me the opportunity to hear your concerns, but also an opportunity to be proactive in preventing a similar situation from occurring again.

This frustrates me like nothing else. Should it frustrate me? Probably not, but like I said, I have come to expect a certain level of service in every interaction, and a templated copy-paste response is anything but. It tells me that, although I have taken the time to contact them and give them my feedback, they have decided to pass on the opportunity to provide the same excellent level of customer service I, and many others, have come to expect and that truly does set them apart from their competition.

By reading No Mas Coach and giving us your feedback, you have not only given us the opportunity to hear your concerns, but also an opportunity to be proactive in getting you the information you desire. 😝

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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13 Comments

  1. I am also a mvp gold 75 and have zero problem with the response you received from Alaska. You would probably not have even received a response from the big 3 let alone a 50 voucher. Be grateful for the service they provided in these three examples. Asking for perfection is an unrealistic expectation.

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    • Actually, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect customer service not to use the same copy pasted template for over 4 years. The reason the big 3 get away with doing that is because people expect them to suck. I refuse.

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  2. MVP Gold here. Love Alaska, as do you. My take: Alaska has spoiled you rotten. πŸ™‚

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    • I don’t see how that is a bad thing πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ
      It speaks highly of them that I’ve come to expect nothing but the best πŸ‘ŒπŸ»

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  3. When dealing with a corporate being “email, survey, rep” I don’t expect anything more than “we’ll look into it”. I feel the same when I complain about my local Starbucks or Target when they fall short of what I expect. i wish there was a better way to pinpoint poor performance but I haven’t found it yet.

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    • The only way to curb poor performance is to accept nothing short of excellent and let corporate beings know about it. When customers are complacent, we give them the space to half-ass their service. πŸ˜•

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  4. About two years ago, I complained to Alaska Airlines about being tossed around their phone tree and being put on hold forever trying to get the PIN on a gift certificate. They gave me a $50 flight credit and I have no status with the airline.

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  5. Nobody likes reading template replies. But how many different ways can you write the same two sentences so that it seems unique to hundreds or thousands of people? And what’s the value in crafting the same two lines in a thousand different ways?

    I’m not in customer service but I have to e-mail too… same thing… all the time. I understand the use of those templated lines.

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    • Zero. You literally need to write those two sentences zero times, since they add no value whatsoever to the interaction. Customer service agents should be trusted and empowered to deliver the same idea in their own words, just like they do over the phone.

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      • umm… they have scripts on the phone. “same idea in their own words”… how many times… they are dealing with the same problems for hundreds of people. it WILL be the same because you cannot come up with a unique response hundreds of times.

        you’re a blogger… got any templates? I hope we’re seeing 100% uniquely crafted stuff… made from scratch every single time! πŸ˜€ I mean, you do write the html from scratch, right!? πŸ˜€

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        • I really can’t speak for the normal line, but they do not have scripts on the 75K line. They may have prompts, but they have perfectly normal conversations that in no way follow a script. You do this every day when you interact with other people and talk about the same things without actually repeating the same verbiage.
          I invite you to keep reading our blog, where you will find that all of our posts are made with organic, small-batch content that is free of templates πŸ™‚ Thanks!

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  6. Working for a large corporation one of two things is likely with this. Most likely they have had a management requirement to respond with a set verbage to avoid a low level CSR telling you something off message. Like what if they responded with “oh gosh that’s terrible ya’ll shouldn’t have ever had issues” sounding unprofessional or how about “tough luck on your first world problem, here in my 3rd world call center country we eat rats for dinnner” or whatever. The other thing is that just because this isn’t genuine sounding it doesn’t mean that a higher up manager doesn’t read your comments later. I’m not trying to defend this action because I hate it also but they deal with huge volumes of comments daily and want to respond quickly.

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    • That’s my point. If you trust and empower your customer service employees to represent all the values of your company, you do not need unnecessary, insincere-sounding scripts that are a complete 180 from your company’s usual level of service.

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