Last week I needed to cancel a flight I booked on Continental.com. I called them and I got a message that said something along the lines of “we are no longer taking phone calls.” They didn’t give me the option to leave a message or even send an email. The message said I should go to their website and ask my questions to Alex, their “online virtual assistant.” That pissed me off. I love flying Continental, but when I call a company I expect an actual human being to answer the phone.

I finally asked “Alex” my question and I was able to cancel my reservation online, so the experience wasn’t so bad after all. Do you know what really bothered me? That nobody explained to me WHY I had to ask my question to a computer and nobody apologized for the inconvenience. Imagine how different my opinion of Continental would be if the phone message had said this:
“Hi, this is Jeffery Smisek, the CEO of Continental. I am very, very sorry that we can’t take your call. I realize you want to talk to an actual human being instead of listening to a recorded message, so please let me explain why you’re hearing this recording. We do everything we can to keep our costs down so we can pass those savings to you. That means we no longer can take all the calls we get. Let me suggest something: go to our website, click on the Ask Alex link and ask her a question. I’m 99% sure you’ll be very happy with the answer you get. But, if you are not, just email our customer support team at support@continental.com and we’ll get back to you in less than two hours. If your matter is really urgent and you can’t wait two hours, please call 888-999-0000. Thank you!”
What do you think? Would you feel better if companies explained to you why they do the things they do? Wouldn’t it be nice to get some honest, straightforward explanations instead of just more “corporate talk”?