I’m talking about the service (or lack thereof) provided by United Air on my recent trip to the OPC Expo. (Shame you if you thought I was talking about OPC UA Services. They are of course robust, reliable and secure. OPC UA is definitely not broken J )
I’m usually not a ‘ranter’ by nature, but I recently watched saw the video of Seth Godin’s talk “This is Broken” and this experience comes hard on the heels of my last air travel experience. Here’s the story
<rant> My flight to San Jose involved a connection in Denver. When I checked in at Edmonton I was told ‘all connections out of Denver are on-time’ (this was at 3:00 pm). As we began our extremely turbulent approach into Denver around 5:00 pm they announced the San Jose flight would be leaving from gate 15, but please check the monitors for conformation. All well and good so far.
Upon arriving at the airport we all dutifully checked the monitors to find that none of the departure gate information had been updated since around 12:00 that afternoon, and many of the flights listed had been delayed (primarily due to the Tornado like weather patterns we rollercoaster-ed through on the way in). None of this info seems to be sent to incoming planes or departure cites, who brightly tell you everything is running on-time. Broken.
The information monitors had obviously been down for 5 hours. There were no personnel available at the monitors to give passengers information or direct them to manned service desks or information centers. Broken.
Lacking any better info, I headed to gate 15 as announced on my incoming flight. Gate 15 was waiting to board a delayed flight to Oakland, and the desk personnel only knew the San Jose flight was not leaving from this gate, but could not say what gate it was supposed to leave from. Broken. I randomly choose a check-in desk along the concourse and waited in line to find the San Jose flight would depart Gate 38 at 8:30 (it was supposed to be a 6:45 departure). No reason was given (Broken) but everyone assumed it was weather related. We can’t control the weather, so we settled in to wait out the delay.
15 minutes past our posted boarding time, the gate announced the in bound plane was delayed but would arrive in 15 minutes, be serviced and ready to board. Yeah. The plane pulls up to the gate, passengers are disembarking, everyone starts packing up to board. 8:35 the gate announces. The flight from San Jose will NOT depart from Gate 38, it has been moved to Gate 57!!!! Please go there now to board. End of transmission. So VERY broken.
The sheep herd shuffles angrily to our THIRD gate of the day. Gate 57 displays San Jose. Yeah. No one is boarding. 20 minutes later a new announcement. “Maintenance crew is still working on the oil pressure problem, and will make a decision at 9:30”. End of transmission. SO un-freaking-believably Broken. ‘Still working on the oil pressure problem?’ What oil problem? My connection has been delayed almost 3 hours now and why are we not boarding the plane at gate 38? What does ‘make a decision’ mean? What is the alternative here? The Staff leave the service desk. Broken.
9:30 comes. No announcement. No desk staff. Broken. 9:45 the phone rings repeatly at the service desk. 9:50 a new announcement. “Maintenance crew is still working. A new decision will be made at 10:30”. Need I say Broken? Is it realistic to believe they will fix the problem they have been working on presumably for hours in the next 15 minutes? Do I want to fly on a plane with an ‘under pressure’ fix? Is a new plane coming? Broken.
10:45 we see the plane roll away from the gate. No announcement. 11:00 a new plane rolls in. (Obviously the decision was made a while back, but no one though to inform the muttering, exasperated crowd in the waiting room.) Finally an announcement. We have a plane, and will begin boarding immediately. We will endeavor to get you underway as soon as possible. Weak cheer from the room. Everyone scurries to line up (being a pessimist I keep reading in my ‘comfy’ chair). 10 minutes go by and no one has been allowed to board yet. Give me a B. Give me a R…..
New announcement. “The original seating chart was for an Airbus 319. This plane is a Airbus 320 and the seat do not match exactly. We can not board until we receive the new seating chart. Hopefully it will only take a few minutes”. I-am-now-climbing-the-bell-tower-Broken. Could you not keep track of seats with a blank piece of paper and a Sharpie!!!.
Another 10 minutes go by, and they begin calling passengers to the front desk for their new seat assignments. At 11:45 pm my 6:45 connection left Denver.
Decending into San Jose, an announcement was made that they were sorry for the delay and said that we could go on line to www.united.com/appreciation and choose a gift to best suit our needs. As I watched people fumbling for pens or looking thoughtfully to the ceiling trying to memorize the URL, all I could think to myself was… Broken. Could you not have a flyer, business card… a sticky note with that generic info on it?
When I finally got the time to go on-line, use Google to find the UA site (it’s united.com not unitedair.com), misspell ‘appriecation’ and be told the website has been reorganized and the page does not exist I finally found the entry site. After the page froze up and crashed on me three times. I got to experience one more time how Broken service can be.
If you’re still with me after that tirade. Let me share some thoughts on how vitally important good customer service is for any business, particularly in today’s environment. Here are a couple of e-mails that have crossed my desk about our MatrikonOPC support staff in the last couple of weeks.
“<Customer Name> and the Project team are very grateful for the amazing support you and everyone at Matrikon have provided us. We couldn’t of been happier with the quality of support that both Chris and Jeff provided us. For a multitude of reasons we were in a very difficult position with the state of the OPC architecture between our Servers, both Chris and Jeff did an excellent job of using their expertise with the Matrikon products and with OPC in general to come up with a solution to fix the architecture , implement that solution, and then to convince the customer that we were implementing the correct solution. “
“Working on the first activities of our program implementation, we have had issues connecting our <operations> platform to the Historian and therefore have contacted your support in Europe.
It is unusual to send this but I wanted to inform you that we were impressed by the quality of support and high professional expertise we received from your colleague, Heiko.
The quality of his intervention has not only helped us resolve our current connection problem quickly, but has also comforted us in the choice we made to purchase Historian components for our <project> exclusively from Matrikon.”
A far cry from the “God, I hate this airline” , “I swear I am NEVER flying this airline again” and “<Dripping Sarcasm> Imagine that… A United Air flight that’s delayed” I overhead during my extended layover in Denver.
Choosing a product or service is a whole lot more than product features or price. Knowing that you will taken care of before, during and after your decision to buy is extremely important to all of us. I’m glad I work for an OPC vendor that knows and embraces that.
Got an OPC question? Or even a question on connectivity or another vendors product? You can probably find the answer at our MatrikonOPC Support portal, and if not someone can find out for you.