Chargebacks911 to Airlines: Customer Service Investments Can Pay Dividends in Increased Loyalty and Profitability

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With recent surveys revealing airlines’ low marks for customer satisfaction and declining loyalty, risk management firm Chargebacks911 counsels air carriers that a renewed focus on service can boost revenues and provide a competitive edge.

Monica Eaton-Cardone, co-founder and COO of Chargebacks911, advises airlines to increase customer service to decrease chargebacks.

Having live representatives available to provide prompt resolution or even just a sympathetic ear can go a long way toward improving consumer satisfaction and goodwill.

Consumer satisfaction rankings reveal that airlines are tied for second-to-last place among 43 industries (1), and a recent survey found that brand loyalty has taken a dive among air travelers (2). Monica Eaton-Cardone, co-founder and COO of dispute mitigation and risk management firm Chargebacks911, cautions that dissatisfied consumers are more likely to file chargebacks; so she advises airlines to focus on customer service as a way to raise satisfaction, reclaim loyalty, reduce chargebacks and increase revenue.

According to the latest rankings published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), airlines currently average a 72% satisfaction rate—ranging from a high of 80% for JetBlue and Southwest to a low of 62% for Spirit, with legacy carriers American, Delta and United at or just below the average (3). The 2015 year-end ratings put airlines in a four-way tie for second-to-last place, along with fixed-line telephone service, health insurance and the U.S. Postal Service; only Internet service providers and subscription telephone service scored lower (1).

Another survey found that “airlines and hotels are missing the mark on consumer loyalty,” reporting that just 22% of travelers care whether a particular airline or hotel is offered during the booking process (2). These findings echo Deloitte data that showed only 44% of travelers fly at least three-quarters of their air miles on their “preferred” airline (2).

“Today’s savvy digital consumers pose new challenges—and opportunities—for the airline industry,” said Eaton-Cardone. “With just a few clicks, travelers can compare prices and schedules; and they can also share their customer service experiences with the world. Positive experiences can improve brand reputation and market share, as Southwest and JetBlue have shown. However, poor experiences often result in widespread negative publicity and are increasingly leading disgruntled fliers to file chargebacks, to the detriment of airlines’ earnings.”

Unhappy travelers frequently voice their displeasure via critical tweets, posts or reviews; and if they happen to be journalists or bloggers, those experiences can be broadcast to an audience of millions. A Time article documented one reporter’s canceled flight, lost-luggage issues and inability to reach a live customer service representative (4), while a post on The Digerati Life details how the author filed a chargeback to resolve an overcharge and goes on to explain how and when to file a credit card dispute with an airline or other online merchant (5).

Eaton-Cardone acknowledges that airlines often have to contend with issues that are beyond their control, such as weather-related flight delays, penalty charges, or confrontations between passengers, in addition to the issues they are accountable for, such as luggage handling, overbilling or oversold flights. She says the way airlines handle all traveler complaints, regardless of the source, can have a tremendous impact on their reputation, satisfaction ratings and profitability.

“Travel-related problems have the potential to ruin vacations, interfere with business or make fliers miss important family events; so, understandably, travelers are often very upset, angry or stressed when they encounter difficulties. Having live representatives available to provide prompt resolution or even just a sympathetic ear can go a long way toward improving consumer satisfaction and goodwill. It can also help prevent issues from escalating to the point where travelers feel compelled to air their grievances in a public forum or file credit card chargebacks to obtain a refund,” she noted.

Eaton-Cardone counsels airlines to adopt additional customer service options that better align with their online presence. She says that the industry has grown beyond traditional communication methods, citing the fact that nearly 60% of all travel purchases are conducted through mobile. “We can all learn from online veterans like Amazon” she says, “where customer service is not only provided 24/7 - but the initial contact attempt is logged through a one-click inquiry form. This provides Amazon the ability to follow-up with the customer after their service call in order to help refine quality control processes to improve future relations.” In addition to implementing more intelligent customer service improvements, she advises air carriers to focus on risk management and chargeback mitigation.

Airlines can learn more about risk management and chargeback mitigation by requesting a free chargeback analysis from Chargebacks911. Monica Eaton-Cardone is committed to helping online merchants and service providers combat fraud and minimize chargebacks. She recently spoke at the Airline and Travel Payments Summit about how machine learning can thwart fraudsters, and she will be presenting at the upcoming CNP Expo in Orlando and Ticket Summit in Las Vegas. She is also available for interviews and future speaking engagements.

For further information on Chargebacks911 and its comprehensive risk management and chargeback mitigation solutions, visit http://chargebacks911.com.

About Global Risk Technologies and Chargebacks911:

Global Risk Technologies is most known for its role in payment processing solutions that cater to each side of the value chain: Chargebacks911.com and eConsumerServices.com. The firm is headquartered in Tampa Bay, Florida, with offices in Ireland and Atlanta. They have approximately 350 employees worldwide and currently manage over 150MM in transactions each month, with clients located in the U.S. and Europe.

Chargebacks911 is a division of Global Risk Technologies, and was developed specifically for merchants to offer immediate aid through proprietary technology and provide the necessary function that gives merchants the freedom to focus on their core competency and optimize their in-house skill set. Chargebacks911 focuses on chargeback mitigation and risk management. They specialize in servicing Internet merchants and acquiring banks, offering dispute response solutions and deep analytics. Chargebacks911 works with their client base to help them keep dispute rates down and retain their ability to accept credit cards. For more information, visit http://www.chargebacks911.com.

1.    Reed, Dan. “Airlines’ Customer Service Performance Has Improved, But They’re Still Near The Bottom Of The Barrel”; Forbes; April 27, 2015. forbes.com/sites/danielreed/2016/04/27/airlines-customer-service-performance-has-improved-but-theyre-still-near-the-bottom-of-the-barrel/

2.    “Airlines Look to Differentiate With Personalized Customer Experiences as Traveler Loyalty Takes a Dive”; Boxever press release, edited by Richard Carufel; Bulldog Reporter; February 29, 2016. bulldogreporter.com/airlines-look-to-differentiate-with-personalized-customer-experiences-as-traveler-loyalty-takes-a-dive/

3.    American Customer Satisfaction Index. ACSI Travel Report 2016; April 26, 2016. theacsi.org/news-and-resources/customer-satisfaction-reports/reports-2016/acsi-travel-report-2016

4.    Zoglin, Richard. “The Airlines' Customer-Complaint Lines: No Answer”; Time; September 3, 2009. content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1920121,00.html

5.    Silicon Valley Blogger; contributing writer Alexis Anderson. “When To Dispute Credit Card Charges & Get A Chargeback”; The Digerati Life; June 6, 2010. thedigeratilife.com/blog/dispute-credit-card-charges-chargeback/

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