Yesterday I tried to arrange travel with my US Airways Dividend Miles and came away from the experience annoyed and frustrated. It started with a recent email I’d received, which provided my account information. There were links on the left side of the email, including one called, “Use Miles”. I decided to use my miles to fly to Seattle for a long weekend so I clicked the link and was taken to “Booking Information”, and clicked the “Book Award Travel” link. I started through the process of searching for flights, selecting flights, selecting seats, providing my Dividend Miles number, providing my credit card and billing information for the fees, and finally clicked the Purchase button. I then got an error message telling me that portions of the US Airways website were down and asking me to try again in a few minutes. So a few minutes later, I went through the whole process again, starting from the email link. Again, I got the error message. The whole process had taken about 20 minutes and I was getting frustrated so I called the US Airways Web support number for help.
The voice and the din in the background told me that I was in contact with call center in India. I explained the problem and the error messages to the representative and he asked for my Dividend Miles number. What he told me left me shaking my head.
He said the reason that I had been unsuccessful was that I had never logged in to my Dividend Miles account. This surprised me because through the entire booking process, I had never been presented with a screen asking me to do that. Furthermore, the error message I received told me that a website malfunction was to blame — not a failure to log in. So I was a little angry with his explanation. I got a little more angry when I tried to explain the problem with the website process to the representative and all I got back was, “it’s a security measure and you need to log in”.
When you click to Amazon and many other companies from a promotional email, you are asked for your account information before you get into the checkout process. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. In a Web 2.0 world, a company attuned to its customers also listens when those customers have problems with the company website — US Airways has apparently not trained its representatives to take constructive feedback and do something with it. To those who say that I should have known to log in, I say that a well designed website should make any purchase process intuitive and effortless and this was not. There was also apparently no feedback loop from customer service to management to report problems. I hope that somehow the word gets back to the Web design and call center management folks at US Airways and that these problems are addressed.
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- Devise, customizing the error messages? (stackoverflow.com)