Delta Needs More “Change”

Delta, Technology

I mentioned last week that Delta was launching their new community site at delta.com/change. Though they didn’t get it up in time for the New York Times article, they did get it live this Monday. What are my thoughts?

Not so great. And that’s a bummer because I really hoped they could have done it right.

There are so many issues with the site that I don’t even know where to start. So, let’s just start at the easiest part. First of all, here’s a screenshot.

07_05_11 deltachange

Now, what’s wrong with it?

1) They are very heavy on the use of Flash on the site. Flash may look pretty, but it’s a no-no for community sites. Google and other search engines love the constantly refreshed user-generated content that you get on sites like these, but if it’s all in Flash, the search engines can’t see it. Oops.

2) The site is heavily moderated and that’s bad. When sites are moderated too much, people shy away from them. Case in point, I submitted a suggestion on Monday when the site launched. I said “I have an idea for Delta” and recommended that they use RFID tags to track luggage. Though expensive, it could be a great differentiator for them because it could allow customers to get real time updates on the location of their bags on a website. There was nothing bad in my suggestion and nothing mean-spirited at all, yet it still has not made it up on the site.

Either they found something strangely objectionable in my post (not good) or they are just really slow at approving new suggestions (very bad). It’s much more likely to be the latter, because they’ve had the same 36 suggestions up on the site for the last few days and nothing has changed. Nobody is going to come back to the site if suggestions don’t make it on there in a timely manner. You get bored waiting.

3) The suggestions are neither searchable nor categorized. The design is maddening. They only tell you what the suggestions are when you mouseover them, so you can’t even get a comprehensive list of what’s out there. The list is sorted by the star rating as voted on by visitors, but it can’t be re-sorted. It’s very unhelpful. Fortunately, they’re so bad at approving suggestions that there aren’t too many to scroll through now. As I mentioned before, there are only 36 suggestions up there right now and 13 of those were from Delta corporate.

4) It’s hard to share. If you want to send a suggestion to a friend, you can’t just copy a link and send it. You have to use their “send to friend” module. It’s definitely never a good idea to make sharing harder than it should be.

So, not the best effort. Basically, it sounds to me like someone at the airline’s agency heard the word “user generated content” and thought they could just throw something together to make it look like they were going to do something good. This is a very poor effort.

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5 comments on “Delta Needs More “Change”

  1. Funny… I suggested the RFID idea, too (before seeing it here on your blog)… so not only did YOUR post not make it, but they got the same suggestion from at least two ‘customers’, and yet it STILL has not been included.

    Looks like we’re in for more of the same with Delta. All talk.

  2. Hi Brett,

    My name is Jacob Morris, and I’m the product manager at delta.com responsible for the implementation of delta.com/change.

    Thanks for all the feedback, we’re definitely listening (and reading). What you see live on the site now is just a showcase of some of the ideas we’ve received. There is another phase to this project releasing soon.

    In mid-August, the site will evolve into a true community forum, where users can collaborate in real-time and share ideas on how to enhance the travel experience at Delta.

    We’re really excited about this initiative, and I’m glad to have you as a member of the community!

    Regards,
    Jacob Morris
    Product Manager
    delta.com & self-service

  3. Delta seems so “image conscious” that they have lost credibility and common sense. Today I tried to change a return flight on a round-trip ticket to one day earlier. After holding and listening to how great Delta is for 15 minutes I was told “this would cost $560.” What about standing by? “No, you can’t do that” Let me speak to a supervisor. “Supervisors are busy.” I will wait (waited on hold for 30 minutes more) “OK, supervisor checked. You can make the change for $50” Total time on phone was 55 minutes.
    Delta seems to WANT to alienate customers, and with me, they have succeeded.

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