“We’re experiencing unusually heavy call volume …”
Think about all the times you’ve heard that in recent months as businesses in nearly all industries reduce their capacity for customer-service calls.
Now Frontier Airlines is taking that aloofness to a whole new level.
It shut down its phone lines.
The Denver-based budget carrier will no longer take calls from customers seeking help with bookings or other travel issues.
Needless to say, Frontier is spinning this as a plus for passengers.
“Our Customer Care function recently transitioned to fully digital communications, which enables us to ensure our customers get the information they need as expeditiously and efficiently as possible,” the airline said in a statement.
What Frontier means by that is wider use of so-called chatbots — automated systems that offer canned responses by text.
Aggrieved travelers also can send the company an email through its website.
“If live agent support is needed, we have live chat available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week,” Frontier said. “Customers may also chat with us via common social media channels and WhatsApp.”
What they’re not saying is that customer service is expensive, and businesses can be more profitable if they cut back on customer interactions with human beings.
The reason so many companies say they’re experiencing unusually heavy volume nowadays is because many cut back on call centers during the pandemic.
It’s not that call volume is necessarily higher. It’s that there are fewer people answering the phone — all in the name of boosting shareholder value with wider profit margins.
Call me a cynic, but I suspect Frontier won’t be alone for long in ditching customer service calls. Other consumer-facing companies probably will follow suit with their own transitions to online-only communications.
And, like Frontier, they’ll claim this is a helpful move for customers.
It’s a demonstration of contempt for the people who provide the revenue upon which businesses live or die.
And if you think it’s a huge hassle getting a consumer issue resolved now, just wait.