Frontier hangs up its call center. Is chat better?
America's cheapest airline moves to text-only service. Plus: Who buys Frontier's all-you-can fly pass? And: The latest on Southwest's move to no-expiration travel credits.
Late last year, Frontier Airlines closed its customer service call centers and moved to chat. Customer service agents are neither cheap nor efficient, and Frontier’s fourth quarter were below the airline’s goal1, so this may have been a good place to cut.
Predictably, there was some pushback. Last month, Zach Wichter with USA Today quoted several customers who were confused by the new policy. "Basically, if you've got any problem, you're high and dry,” one traveler told him. Another said she “got disconnected from the chat when she was using her phone's web browser any time she opened another tab and that the customer service agents ended the conversation more than once if she didn't respond within 30 seconds.”
These days, some business executives believe it’s fashionable to blame the media, so any negative press becomes some version of “fake news.” Speaking recently on Frontier’s earnings call, CEO Barry Biffle took this approach, arguing the negative sentiment was overblown.
“Contrary to maybe some of the news reports, we've actually seen really good performance,” Biffle said. “We've seen NPS2 go up dramatically compared to the call center. If you just think about it in your personal life, how often do you text versus how often do you call? I think this is the way people want to interact.”
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