These CEOs Handle Customer Complaints Directly

According to a report in the Guardian, customers frustrated by a lack of responsiveness from traditional channels are increasingly trying their luck by writing directly to CEOs, directors and other senior executives. There’s even a website out there to help them: CEOemail.com, a free UK-based service, which says the volume of people searching for CEO email addresses has increased dramatically.

One customer of Delta Airlines, who was offered no accommodation or compensation when bad weather delayed her flight for days, got a much better response from the company’s head of customer service than she did from the U.S. airline’s customer service department. “That same day, she called me personally. She gave me £400 ($522) in cash, £900 in flight vouchers, 45,000 air miles and made me a Gold Member, so it’s likely I’ll be upgraded on future flights,” the customer told the Guardian.

“When we get it wrong, I want our customers to know we’re trying very hard to get it right.”

And it turns out, at least according to CEOemail.com, that senior executives from the airline industry and other retailers such as supermarkets are more responsive to direct customer complaints, while CEOs at telecom and energy companies are not.

To test this, the Guardian sent emails to a host of CEOs. Craig Donaldson, the CEO of British retail bank Metro Bank, replied in just five minutes. “If a customer takes the time to write to me, I should take the time to read it, resolve any issues and learn from it,” he said.

Carolyn McCall, CEO of British No. 2 low-cost carrier EasyJet, took less than 90 minutes to reply personally. “When we get it wrong, I want our customers to know we’re trying very hard to get it right,” she said, while noting that she gets around 500 emails a day. “I’ll scan all of them, make a phone call or reply to some, and funnel them to my executive team. I’m particularly interested in when there are multiple things we haven’t got right or something has been mishandled. I want to know why, so we can improve.”

McCall has a track record of impressing customers with a direct response, according to a report in Customer Think.

Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

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