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Great customer service makes up for an otherwise irreparable experience

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This evening, I experienced a miraculous customer service turn-around. After an exorbitant eight hours holding on the airline customer service line, the fantastic attitude and helpfulness of the customer service rep actually not only erased that negative experience, but further enhanced the image of Iceland Air in my mind.

The back-story.

My beloved and I had booked a trip to Europe earlier this year, taking advantage of Iceland Air’s free Iceland stop-over for a few days. Yesterday, we decided to cancel our Europe portion of the trip all together and just go to Iceland exclusively.

The drawback.

A matter of days ago, the active volcano that recently halted European international air travel erupted again, sending fine ash matter all over the region. The ash was bad enough that the Reykjavik airport closed yesterday and part of this morning, and air travel around Scotland was also affected. Of course, this was also a key factor in why we decided to cut off the European portion of our trip – to reduce on our chances of getting stranded. (Iceland has generally been able to reroute flights to another airport to get travelers out, many European nations, on the other hand have had to stop air travel.)

Because of the situation, we knew that our timing was likely horrible as Iceland Air’s customer care was surely slumped over from the load of customers to assist; however, with a flight in less than a week, we needed to make the change quickly. So, in calling Iceland Air, we expected a bit of wait time. What wasn’t expected was a constant, busy signal for their direct reservations line making that option inaccessible, and what ended up being a shocking eight hours of being on hold on their general line. After a short while, I abandoned the phone, leaving it off the cradle as I went about my day, checking it occasionally. It became more of a test – will this call ever come off hold?

The answer is no.

It was near the end of the day when I decided to take a chance to call the direct reservation line again. The phone rang. Success. And as it turned out, the poor woman on the other end of the line had been on the phones for 12 hours straight. I told her I was unbelievably happy to hear her voice, although understandably, she likely wasn’t happy to hear mine. She could have been irritable with me, even tired. I fully expected her to be. But instead, she was warm, humorous, light-hearted, and even took the time to give me advice on how to get around the country. Within minutes, she had helped me sort out my flight changes and said she had sent me my new tickets. I was amazed. This woman single-handedly reinforced the level of service, friendliness and accommodation Iceland Air has come to represent for me.

It just goes to show what a little generosity of spirit, effort and time taken go to create an opportunity for a winning customer experience, regardless of the precursory experience. For me, eight hours of being on-hold is almost laughable, it’s so ridiculous. But, for the most part, for the average consumer, anything exceeding 45 minutes is unacceptable and almost beyond repair. I’ve had other experiences with other airlines where after a 45 minute wait, they’ve hung up on me. Imagine the frustration. But this one, gets a gold medal. I haven’t flown with them yet, and will report back when I do, but for now, Iceland Air gets my vote of appreciation on exceptional customer service. Especially with a glowing volcano and dozens of rerouted flights in its backdrop.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Chris #

    Maybe you can put that 8-hour phone hold into a Guinness record 🙂

    Btw this is your cousin saying hi!

    September 21, 2010

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