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Survey This: Two Customer Service Suggestions for Delta

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Delta Air Lines seems to love getting feedback on their employees. But a source recently pointed out a flaw in Delta’s customer feedback system. And then a phone call to a home goods customer service line, of all places, illustrates how there’s a potential job losing-or-saving issue Delta should address.

1: Give Customers Two Survey Questions When Calling Delta

Whenever you phone Delta customer service to ask help with a reservation or have a question answered, etc., you’re asked to answer a one-question survey about your specific call’s customer service.

I almost always opt-in, unless I’m really in a hurry (like, running to catch a flight or something).

The question you answer is something along the lines of: Based on your experience during this phone call, would you hire the representative with whom you spoke?

Your options are numbers 1-5, with 5 being “Yes” or the most positive possible rating (because Delta wants employees to “Strive for Five”). Submitting a “1” obviously means there’s no way you’d hire that person.

A reliable source told me Delta customer service reps really depend on those rankings — because the results can impact their jobs. If a rep isn’t getting enough 5s, Delta understandably gets a little nervous about that person.

But here’s the problem.

“There are times when a customer might be upset with Delta,” my source said, “but has no problem with the phone rep. In fact, the phone rep could have done the absolute best job possible within their control. But because the customer is mad at Delta for some reason — a rule, ticket price, whatever — they’ll press the ‘1’ button, thinking they’re giving Delta a poor rating. But in fact, they’re hurting the rep.” (Personally, I give lots of fives because most Delta reps are great. Though there have been a few instances when 3s where merited and given.)

Delta should give customers two survey questions:

One would be the standard, “would you hire this person?” or something along those lines but dealing specifically with the rep’s performance.

The other question should be something like, “How satisfied are you with Delta Air Lines”?

People who don’t want to answer one or both questions can simply opt-out.

Call center representative

Here’s a perfect, real-life example of why this needed.

Just last week, my father-in-law had a bad experience result after calling certain home goods store I shan’t name. (Hint: they sell floors. And decors.) “Their inventory practices are (garbage),” he said. “But the lady on the phone was great and tried to help me. So then I took a survey. I gave that lady the best rating possible, completely praised her. But then I gave the company the worst number because they stink.”

If he didn’t have the two specific questions, there’s a chance he would have accidentally zinged the rep when he, in fact, wanted to tell the company what he thinks of them.

Already in Place — Online

Delta, in fact, already does something similar with their Twitter reps. (Read about Rene’s visit to @Delta’s nerve center a few years ago!)

When you ask @Delta for help on Twitter, you’re sometimes asked to answer a survey about your experience. (Whenever my question is resolved, I ask the @Delta rep to trigger the survey, just so I can give him or her a 5). Here are some of the questions I was asked yesterday:

@Delta Twitter survey questions

I wish Delta would implement something like this for their phone reps, too.

Two: Where’s the Survey for Callbacks?

When you call Delta and the hold time will be more than a couple of minutes, the automated system offers to call you back.

But my friend Larry pointed out something interesting: when you receive the callback, you’re not given the option of taking a survey about your experience with the rep. You’re simply told you’re the next in line.

Maybe Delta assumes you’ll be angry your call wasn’t immediately answered the first time around and doesn’t want to risk a bad rating?

Delta should implement a survey option here, too.

Survey Says…?

I worked jobs where customer comment cards were very important. I’m also someone who enjoys giving out Job Well Done certificates and Rene’s DIY JWD to Delta employees who have great attitudes and do their jobs well. I love giving credit when it’s due. But I’m not shy about expressing dissatisfaction, either, in the rare instances that happen.

What do you think? Should Delta add more options to the phone survey? Shouldn’t they include a survey with callbacks? Please tell us your thoughts in the below Comments section!

— Chris

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Barry Graham Reply

    I agree with all you said but I thought I had on occasion got surveys for callbacks.

    I also think they need to read back the answer the system heard. I always worry, when I say a number, whether the system heard me properly and there is no way of knowing.

  2. Agreed. Until then, however, I only push 5 if both Delta mothership and employee resolve my issue as requested/expected. If the outcome is not favorable but employee genuinely tried then they get a 4. Unfortunately for Delta and employee 80% of the time it’s a 4.

  3. I am definitely a proponent of praising folks for a job well done and my experiences with Delta reps have been largely positive. That said I find myself reluctant to complete surveys for the ever-expanding universe of service providers who request feedback.

    Several years ago, I called Comcast about a service problem and got a great rep who was super helpful as she resolved my issue. I gave her the highest rating following the call but I later found out that just about all the info she gave me was wrong and my issue was not fixed. That really started me thinking about what constitutes good service and that you can’t make that determination until the complaint cycle is over and you have confirmed the desired outcome.

    What happens if you get into a dispute with a service provider and perhaps even want to sue – can they pull up your positive reviews and use that to refute your claim? Or even if you just have a complaint and are requesting compensation, having given positive reviews negatively affects your bargaining position.

    I don’t want to be cynical but I do wonder if some companies are not using the feedback to improve operations but rather to defend themselves when disputes arise.

    • @Grant: Interesting points, Grant. One thing with calling Delta is that we can usually get immediate-ish results with our requests (flight or seat changes, etc). But again, good points you raise!

  4. HuntingtonGuy Reply

    I agree that separating the DL employee from the company is reasonable and potentially provides a more accurate representation of the call and the issue being called about.

    I would go a step further and suggest that DL also create a method of surveying Delta Partners when used in connection with Delta travel (hotels, rental cars). I consistently have problems with a car rental company at one particular location. Despite numerous surveys completed and phone calls made to articulate these problems I have never gotten a response or any other satisfaction to the complaints.
    If Delta offered an option to rate or review such partners I suspect it could influence the vendors performance.

  5. @Grant I would think a history of positive feedback can only bolster your case since Delta sees you are not a chronic complainer.

    I hope the ranking is relative, not absolute and that it’s not about getting a bunch of fives, it’s about exceeding the average score given across the board.

  6. Grover Thomas Reply

    I had not thought about the possibility a great Delta phone rep gets hammered because of a policy of Delta that the caller is mad about. Between my wife and I we have 7.3 million points and have always been Diamond Medallion flyers and have been frustrated with stupid policies but never took it out on the agent. But I am sure it happens so I vote on the “Two Question” change. Grover

  7. Chris,

    What Barry said, actually just occurred for me. I couldn’t get a cabin change implemented via the webpage (though I now have 5 pending charges for the change! 🙂 ). So I called mid-afternoon yesterday, and there was a 40 minute wait. Got the call back, got the issue managed and resolved, old-school style.
    Got the survey request this afternoon, gave the solid kudos to the CS rep, and let Delta IT take a couple hits for my trouble.

    Datapoint for you!

  8. @LarryB: Sorry to hi-jack the column (totally agree with idea of 2 q solution), but I’d love to know if your seat change issue happened to involve upgrading to a C+ or F seat. I tried and tried, over several days, to change from main to C+ online and it wouldn’t work — the pop up would pop up and not let me actually click on “upgrade” even though the site was trying hard to sell me on the up-grade. I tried to resolve it with a “contact us” form and got a “please call us to resolve” email. Called, got the long wait “we’ll call you back” option, took it, and was called back. The rep was great, apologized, booked the seats I wanted and I was not charged. But, I’m so curious about what’s up with the website. Anyone else have this issue?

  9. @Chris – yes, sorry for not being a bit more clear. Got the email this afternoon and fired off my commentary within the hour.

    @mbh – also correct, our trip to CDG this summer, I got the opportunity to upgrade via monetized suggestion, from Comfort + to Delta One (to join my wife and son up front), and I tried a few times to execute, got the note at the top of the page, telling me to call because the action couldn’t be completed.

  10. I have found that when a rep is not helpful, one way they avoid a rating less than 5 is not to hang up. If they don’t hang up, then the one-question survey is not read and after a few minutes, I hang up. Then, I call customer care and they can see the employee I spoke with and record my 1. I have done this about three times in many years of flying, and it is always an agent issue (or their attitude), not a company issue.

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