Tag Archives: ryanair

Are customers being unfair on Ryanair?

It’s been difficult to miss the recent trauma caused to the Ryanair brand following its announcement that its pilots are off on holiday for the rest of the year. An estimated 2% of flights were to be cancelled, meaning very few ‘customers’ are impacted (according to them).

‘Have your say’ poll below

I’m one of the 98%, whose flights went ahead, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t aware or affected by the situation. I have still seen all the news and abuse they been getting in the press and social media. It’s also crashed into my customer journey when I flew because I had to put more effort in to remove the anxiety involved with sticking with Ryanair.

When I saw the initial announcement, I had flights booked to Copenhagen for business. I didn’t know if they intended to publish a cancellation but heard stories of passengers being told two hours beforehand that their flight had been cancelled. I was due to run two days of customer journey mapping workshops, so couldn’t take the risk.

I booked the flights originally because of the convenience factor of them. I’d be departing from an airport close to me and at a time that suited. The cost of the flights matters less to me. a lot less than an airline honouring a flight where there are dependencies at the other end.

So, I booked back-up flights in case the Ryanair flights were cancelled and I didn’t know whether they’d tell passengers about cancellations. The back-up flights were from an airport 90 mins further away from me than the Ryanair flights, so a lot less convenient, but at least I knew I’d get there if mine were cancelled which had now become a more important criteria than convenience.

When the cancellation list was published my flight was not on it. But as a colleague said, ‘when you buy cheap, you end up buying twice’. Ryanair positions itself at the cheap end of the cheap brand spectrum, so the old advertiser’s wife’s tale certainly came true for me. In fact, I’ve ended up lining the pockets of two other airlines they compete with just so I can use Ryanair.

Is Ryanair being unfair to me as a customer? 

I don’t think it is. I understand I am a transaction to Ryanair and not a customer. It’s always been that way. I accept that to afford the price of their ticket I need to lower my expectations. I need to sacrifice quality and a lot more besides because we enter into a transaction, not a customer relationship. That’s the trade. If I want to be treated like a customer, I should choose an alternative carrier. I get that.

So it’s my choice and they don’t try and present themselves as anything more than that, so we get along just fine. In fact, I’ve booked over twenty trips so far this and a noticeable proportion of those have been with Ryanair so I hop it’s commercially viable for them too.

But will everyone feel the same?

From a share price perspective, they are 25pts up on where they were this time last year. But what’s your view? Complete the survey below and see what others think too.

Will passengers change their airline?

Perhaps those who have lost hundreds on hotels and car hire will be less likely to consider Ryanair, especially as they cant get refunds from their travel insurers for which Ryanair state legally isn’t their problem.

People who had events and activities planned like visiting family abroad for key birthdays, weddings organised or taking friends and loved ones away for much anticipated trips might hold a long term resentment if they can reschedule at no extra cost.

I know they have slim margins and are looking for me to demonstrate my fallible human side and make a mistake (e.g. I forget to check in 2 hours before hand or I need a drink of water and pay €3 on board when it costs 69p if i’d remembered to get it before I flew, or if show weakness and exercise my right to sit with my wife and young sons on the flight and pay for seats to do so). Those extras are part of their business model, they need to protect them.

But in return, they don’t expect me to be ‘very satisfied’ with the experience. they don’t expect me to tell others to use their airline, they don’t expect me to be loyal to them and they don’t expect me to enjoy using Ryanair. It’s a transaction. We both know where we stand and I think it works pretty well.

Can I remember when I travelled with Ryanair and where to? No, it’s a pretty forgettable experience.

Can I tell you how good the experience was? I didn’t notice anything, but I didn’t expect to.

Can I recall a positive memorable moment from dealing with them? They are not creating happy memories. That’s not what cheap brands do. 

Would I tell others to choose them? No, but that’s not important to them. They aren’t looking to give me any reason to do so and I have no reason to tell anyone else to use them.

If I want a memorable flight I should choose another airline. Ryanair do not have the margins or the brand to satisfy customers, so why would they focus on it?

Does this episode reaffirm Ryanair’s brand, rather than damage it?

I’ve also found the Ryanair cancellation was a hot topic amongst the Swiss, German, Danish and Belgium attendees at the workshop. It seems others are not so accommodating. Listening to the discussion amongst the international group of business travellers, I hadn’t appreciated how wide reaching this incident had become.

Some decided to use a different airline to get to the workshop to previously used Ryanair. They said it was a nice experience so they would carry on now they’d realised the flight experience was important to them.

But we shouldn’t be disappointed in Ryanair. The incident itself and how they have conducted themselves throughout the flight cancellation saga has been true to their brand. Whether it’s not publishing the cancellation list early enough, putting pilots holidays before passengers holidays, sitting in front of an advertising poster of smiling actors posing on a beach as the CEO says sorry we can’t fly some of you to the beach or not sharing compensation information legally obliged to until the regulator barks, they been consistent.

All these have been executed perfectly in line with the values of Ryanair. Few other companies could turn a crisis in to such as demonstration of unwavering alignment to their brand.

Posted by Chistopher Brooks, Customer Consultant, Lexden (London)

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Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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How to start a Customer Experience Strategy 5/5: Resist short cuts. Only the short-lived use them.

I was approached recently at a conference and asked, ‘if we are starting out on a customer experience strategy, what are the key pieces of advice you would give a business when embarking on a customer experience strategy? I answered:

  1. Ensure those responsible for the customer experience have the right experience too
  2. If it’s the company that wants to be more customer-centric start with them, not the customer
  3. Understand the potential and the limits of customer experience early on
  4. Once you are in, you are all in and you are in for the long haul if you intend to profit
  5. Short cuts exist, resist. Only short lived programmes use them

5. Short cuts exist, resist. Only short lived programmes use them

With CX there is impatience to see improvements quickly. In our experience it can encourage the wrong behaviours within a business. There are two drivers of short–cut mentality:

a) Improved Performance
b) Differentiation

Both are of course achievable from customer experience. In fact, there is quantified evidence to show in many sectors, CX is more effective than brand, product, price or communications when it comes to retaining customer relationship.

However, pre-fix either outcome with ‘immediate’ and you have a recipe for disaster. We worked on an assignment where one of the main international consultancies whispered into the CEO’s ear that CX should deliver incremental commercial gain within three months. So the CEO informed the board. The board informed the group. The group told the business to deliver it. So it became a race to the bottom with everyone searching for short-term gains. Two years later I’m not sure they’ve moved forward at all.

In this paper we will demonstrate even though ‘short cuts’ exist in CX, they result in a short-lived focus on customer and long-term damage to the business.

The silver bullet is not it seems to be. After all it is famed for sleighing werewolves; itself a mythical creature which has no place in the our world. Certainly not customer experience.

a) The short-fall of using CX to deliver immediate performance improvement

The parallels with brand investment and return are relevant on more than one level. If the brand team were told, “we need some quick sales to flow from you brand investment now at any cost” what would they do? If there existence depended on, they may well ditch the focus of reaffirming their unique differentiating positioning using emotional and rational engagement to create meaningful existence in their customers lives. But instead opt for slashing prices, being everywhere and shouting ‘free’.

The reaction of the CX team wouldn’t be too different. They’d dive for short cuts to demonstrate return. Short cuts such as giving customers refunds rather than fixing root causes creating mistakes (to pacify NPS) or remove personnel who engage in dialogue with customers until a resolution is achieved rather than drive queries through e mail only with 72 hour response times. Such short cuts aren’t providing a better outcome for the customer. Whilst ticks appear on the business performance report, customers will be left less satisfied and move their custom elsewhere, barking about your business. Like the brand team you will have killed the very thing you aimed to invest in for the future of the business.

Technology troubles

Technology seeps into customer experience at every level. From feedback surveys, to mapping software, to text analytics, to social listening tools all the way through to improvements driven tech such as web chat avatars and personalised pricing QR codes. It’s all good stuff. But efficiency shouldn’t be achieved at the detriment of quality and understanding.

cx 5 word cloudLet’s take text analytics. When you are dealing with a mass of customer data, such as 400 hotels feedback or 200 supermarkets, the thought of wading through every customer response is challenging. The truth is the real time required to cover this (assuming a minimum of 50+ comments per location per session) means you’d never get out of the ‘VoC’ lab! However, throw it all into a sentiment sensitive text analytics mixing bowl and you will find what you have is a blended version of the truth.

Story telling is a key component of customer experience. Customers want to tell you their story. Reducing this outpouring to a word means the power, the passion and the potency is lost.

For example, “My wife and I had looked forward to the break because it would be a treat for our 4 year old as a well done for starting school. Sadly on arrival the pool was under renovation due to an scheduled building work. It was heart breaking for all of us because we’d spent weeks getting our daughter excited about the idea of learning to swim now she’d started school. If our expectations had been better managed, we could have chosen another hotel on this occasion. Instead you’ve lost our custom forever.”

When you read this through, you feel the parental pain and child’s heartbreak. As well as recognising the consequential impact of not managing guests expectation. By not updating the website or informing those who have already booked, bad will has been created.

Would you recognise this with an effective text analytics system? What you might have returned is NEGATIVE | BREAK | POOL BUILDING | LOST. It’s a weaker picture with no sense of what needed to be done.  In our view customer feedback reviewing is the hard yards needed to understand issues and their impact fully.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share the load around. We have found VoC sessions can be great ways to get more people within an organisation engaged with customers. All that is needed is a standard operating framework.

Praising individuals rather than improvements

We’ve come across programmes which focus on rewarding positive outcomes which is great it encourages participation.  However, where the individual is rewarded for an NPS idea before it’s performance has been realised. This only encourages ideas which have no grounding in reality. But rewarding an individual when an idea is live means most ideas are short-term fixes which is not desirable. CX should deliver sustainable improvements.

cx 5 cool ideasIt’s worth remembering that NPS is not a performance measure it’s a measure which informs performance. Customer experience is a philosophy not a project. In the above example we would recommend placing effort on rewarding the improvements that delivers the uplift in NPS over time, identifying other areas across the customer experience where it can be repeated and recognising those behind the improvement. Save the rewards to end of year ceremonies or annual appraisal demonstrations of ‘acting in the interest of customers’

b) Using CX to deliver immediate competitor differentiation

We spoke in part 2 of this 5 part series about how a brand must fix what’s broken and then build a better customer experience. And that making what matters most to customers better through values of the brand achieves brand differentiation in CX which creates competitive advantage when delivered well

However, many are tempted to jump the layers. But jumping layers doesn’t work. Making things enjoyable when the basics are still broken is a shortcoming of the naive customer experience strategist, or one under pressure from the board to deliver. It’s seen as cosmetic by employees who will class it as ‘lip service’ and they will then stop believing in the customer too.

Customers will quickly see through your papered over the cracks

cx 5 old ladyAnd customers themselves quickly see through inferior or fob off solutions, becoming cynical of the motive and more frustrated with your brand. A CEO reportedly took a bunch of flowers to an elderly lady who had complained about his company’s service. As a PR stunt it was positioned as a, ‘Showing We Care’ exercise to demonstrate warmth comes from the top. However, the flowers were viewed as a cover up by the customer who told the CEO she wanted resolution to her issue, not flowers. A resolution the CEO had to concede he didn’t know how to fix!

Have faith, differentiation can be achieved through customer experience. www.zappos.com is a brand arguably more famous for their customer experience excellence than the ladies shoes the retail.

Getting it right means delivering in a coordinated manner aligned with business priorities. To fulfill the customer’s expectations and then exceed will them creates a positive customer noise and advocacy as well as internal support. This takes time. Ryanair know those 15 years of low cost, no frills budget airline positioning won’t be reversed with a national TV ad and a new website. But they are starting with basics. They are rolling their sleeves up and investing the time needed. These efforts take years to turn around. But with a positioning of 250th in the Nunwood Customer Experience Experts UK league, it’s going to be along haul.

Proving the case to the board to get the investment to differentiate

One of the most challenging but most rewarding undertakings is to correlate customer experience improvement (often recorded as NPS or CSAT) with the business performance targets. Like proving the value of sponsorship towards sales and brand equity, it’s not easy, but the links are there.

You should in any business case for a CX programme how the performance measures will change, including brand profile and market share. But to propose brand metrics will move early in the programme leads to problems later on. It takes time and requires customer performance patterns to build up before it starts to come through.

Our advice would be to first look for connections between improvements and a range of easy to identify measures such as:

  • Reduced cost to serve,
  • Drop in negative social feedback on specific issues,
  • High levels of claimed advocacy,
  • Reduced level of drop out from ‘not proceed with’ during sales process,
  • Uplift in usage patterns from loyal customers,
  • Usage of more effective channels,
  • Preferred to competitor equivalent experience

cx 5 many thumbs upFirst, see which of these marketers measures the customer experience improvements affects. Then use these small wins to gain confidence internally, not least of all the Heads of Brand, Propositions and Communication. You will need these stakeholders to commit their budget to build experience as priority component of their focus. They also often hold the budget you will need to promote the differentiation. Differentiation will be driven from within.

Like all of the 5 points raised in this series, this is all very manageable. Critically with customer experience it’s the experience of the team which will determine the success of the strategy.

At Lexden, we find a blend of enthusiasm and a fundamental understanding of how things work from the client blended with our team’s decades of customer experience development across various sectors and borders ensures we have the right synergies to achieve a best in class solution for every specific engagement.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the series. Lexden’s Best Practice Customer Value Propositions series is available free from www.lexdengroup.wordpress.com

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant & Director at Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Consultancy | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on  M: +44 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.

 

Unordinary Thinking No. 41 – Cash in on childish complaints

We work with clients who are looking to improve the experience they provide their customers. Some are well on their journey and are looking to ensure their ‘branded experience’ creates differentiation from their competitors. Others are on the start of their journey having recognised that increased satisfied customers lead to sustainable revenues at a lower cost margin.

With these different stages of customer centricity in mind, it is important to match the resource types you employ to steer and deliver improvements to the stage you are at. Ops folk are great at fixing broken process (reducing detractors), but marketers have some advantage when it comes to building a differentiated experience (increase promoters).

But whatever stage of maturity your CX programme is at, it pays to always keep an eye open for those rare little gems that can give a boost to your programme by reminding everyone just how easy it can be to create warmth towards your brand. Which as we know encourages consideration for those in the market.

And there’s no better place to start than among the Voice of The Customer feedback to look for the fun you can generate from complaints. Unordinary Thinking indeed as it’s not something for the legally constrained in thinking. Which is why we recommend letting the content marketers and your brand experts trawl through what they can find. They will find opportunity in the feedback where others find cause for concern. Not forgetting resolution is a key customer attribute so that part of any dissatisfied customer feedback found will still always need attention.

wbac letter

Making fun of a complaint

We came across this example of such an opportunity at a recent customer experience conference when it was presented as a classic case of the brand putting business policy before brand personality. It’s a complaint from a customer who asked webuyanycar.com for a valuation on their child’s Little Tyke car. It fell in the wrong hands first time round with a snooty response requesting the enquirer to not waste the businesses time which soon found it’s way on to the internet.

But that meant it appeared in someone else’s feedback pot at WBAC and this time the customer centric thinking employee responded with a sense of the spirit that the brand can convey. The outcome (which should have been presented first time around)…..webuyanytoycar.com was born. For a few ‘shillings’ (looking at the website it would be surprising if it cost more than that) they’ve trying to get a big impact from a small idea, a complaint in fact. The promise was to buy 1000 toy cars for £10 each and then rehouse them at hospitals, hospices and homes where they would be much appreciated; a charitable response. It highlights what a little unordinary thinking can achieve when you take negative news and add a little personality. Even if you are a second hand car sales brand. The content allows consumers another way in to the brand and the execution helps improve a positive association with the brand which leads to higher levels of consideration – all good news for the ‘sales’ funnel.

wbatc

These opportunities land in the inbox and in tray of companies every week. The trick is to see the opportunity that exists within them and to accept the time taken to make them a reality is still an investment into the customer.

There’s a great saying attributed to Mary Angelou, poet and leading figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Which if that means my positive emotional response replaces the still lingering negative bilious feeling I had when I first saw the old ad campaign, I will be very grateful!

wbac

Another opportunity to cash in on a complaint

I have found a similar opportunity on a Facebook feed which is a reference posted by a chap who is organising a trip to the world children’s choir championship for his choir. But he had so much trouble trying to block book 70 flights with a low cost airline brand they nearly didn’t get there. He’s promised to feature the brand in his press release which is due to follow the finals. Can the brand turn this around? Absolutely. And the marketers among you probably have some ideas forming around what you would do. 

So I will track this and see how it plays out. Ideally with a story featuring the brand turning the complaint (from a customer who has bought over 70 products in one hit) into a good customer experience, PT opportunity and shows a reignited warmth to their brand. In the meantime, revisit your own VoC to find fun, positive association and preference for you brand. I assure you great opportunities lie within it. Of course we could find it for you, but there’s more commitment behind these things when you find them yourself. By all means contact us to help make the most of it. Happy customer feedback hunting.   

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read sign-up to our free monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris