Singapore Airlines has faced up to the many problems of its new website design, with the CEO making a contrite apology to customers.
Goh Choon Phong wrote:
On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to offer our sincere apology for the inconvenience caused as a result of issues that arose from the launch of our new website on 22 May 2011.
As with all new initiatives that we undertake, the intention behind the website revamp was to improve on our customers’ experience with us. I am truly sorry that the new website, with its technical problems, has instead caused much aggravation for many of our customers. We make no excuses for our failure to deliver an acceptable level of online service.
We have committed full resources to resolving the website problems and have made significant progress in rectifying many of the defects. We will continue to relentlessly pursue all other outstanding issues. An in-depth investigation as to how the issues that arose went undetected is well underway, and we are treating this with utmost importance.
At Singapore Airlines, we strive to put our customers at the centre of everything we do. I am well aware that there is a wide range of travel options to choose from, and thus, am grateful that many of you have continued to support us. We do not take this for granted.
Thank you for your continued patience during this period. I know that you have high expectations of us, and we failed to meet those expectations. On behalf of the Company, I offer our unreserved apology, and pledge to win back your confidence.
The problems with the new website, which makes extensive use of Adobe Flash (which doesn't work on Apple iPhone and iPad devices) have been a hot topic of discussion among travellers.
Shortly after the website launched in May, Sydney technology journalist Ry Crozier declared the website a "botch job".
"It's a horrible Flash design that takes ages to render, and some of the buttons seem to be painted on, with no coding behind them. For example, trying to change a flight booking, I can log in and see my flights, click change and then it all falls apart.
"You put in your new dates but nothing happens when you try to click through to the next screen.
"For the last 2 days it just says something is wrong and to call them. Today it returns an internal 500 server error. Great look.
"Ring up their helpdesk (for which the queues are unusually horrible) and it says they're experiencing higher than normal call volumes due to "teething problems" with their new website."
Some travellers even started an online petition to ask the company to return to the old website, which, by all accounts, worked well.
"In a world where average customers are bullied by mega companies, Singapore Air has the rare chance to cement their customers' loyalty by listening to us on an important issue such as this," wrote Franco Conte, who created the petition.