Continental: A Lesson in CEM

This isn’t the first time Martin and I have blogged before about the airlines, as airline travel usually provides a catalyst through which others within the CRM profession can learn from. Last week proved no different, as I flew to our Cupertino offices for business and for Sugar’s annual Christmas party. Being a Continental OnePass member, I flew my preferred airline from Newark Liberty International to San Jose Municipal, with a quick transfer in Houston.

Just my luck, it ended up snowing in Houston for the first time in five or six years the day of my flight. To make a long story short, we sat on the tarmac for nearly six hours awaiting takeoff, as Bush International only had one deicing truck available, so the line of passenger jets stretched nearly 50 planes long.

Fast forward to today, when I logged into my OnePass account to check my miles. To my pleasant surprise, Continental had credited me with an additional 25,000 miles as compensation for the delay, which has now pushed me from Silver to Gold status.

Needless to say, the weather, and Houston’s lack of experience with it, wasn’t Continental’s fault, and I value unfrozen flaps and ailerons (and thus my life) much more then a timely departure. In today’s tough economic conditions, Continental had no incentive to compensate me whatsoever, and they could have easily gotten away with it, because as a OnePass member with over 75,000 miles to burn, they know I’m not going anywhere.

Nevertheless, (via integration between their CRM system, booking/flight management software, and CMS) they identified me as a passenger on a delayed flight and compensated me for my time. And that’s the difference between a company that leverages CRM strictly for the business value and those that take things one step farther and leverage it for the experience…or CEM (customer experience management) for those of you more keen on industry acronyms. In doing so, they exponentially increased my loyalty to their company by demonstrating they’re willing to go above and beyond for such dire circumstances.

That said, six hours stuck inside an airplane sucks…but at least we didn’t look like this when we started our takeoff run:

One thought on “Continental: A Lesson in CEM

  1. Don’t get too mushy on Continental just yet… according to an airline industry friend, because of the length of the delay, Continental was obligated to provide compensation to you (the “Passenger Bill of Rights” that was passed a few years ago ensures that). Furthermore, they were obligated to notify you of the compensation, which they apparently didn’t do.

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