Usman Ghani (October 4, 2013)
Worldwide inflation has led companies to cut costs and eliminate expenditure on providing extra services to its consumers. In such times when financial budgets are difficult to manage, the secret to successful customer service is getting the basics right. Many companies in the process of providing something extra neglect the core fundamentals of customer service for their business.
When offering customer service for your airline, we encourage you train your team to master the basics first so they can build on them and deliver all the Needs of the customer and then go on and focus on the wants. It would be great if your company can do the best of both, but if cutting costs is necessary then the basics must be outclass and high quality, so the customers don’t switch between you and your competitor.
The goal for an organization who wants to excel should be to win the trust of its consumers who can rely on them when in need. The airline industry is very sensitive to consumer response and can lose its customers for a better service.
Airlines must ensure that they are offering better prices than their competitions but not at the cost of bad customer experience, so the consumers always keeps them in mind for better value and less cost. Airlines should try and offer the lowest fare which is applicable for the flight. The consumer should trust the airline for not charging a high price and stay guaranteed of good basic service in the cheapest option. This increases the turn over from other customers, who by social media or word of mouth come to know about the offerings of an airline and then opt to try it out.
One of the repeated complaints is of not being notified in time for delays, cancellations and diversions. Focusing on such details is the best way to bridge the gap between good service and exceptional service. Airlines should set a goal of informing the passenger instantly of up to date and accurate information as soon as they can so the passengers are equipped with the knowledge to make their next decisions. This creates a sense of trust in the consumer’s mind, who hence feels valued, leading to a sense of loyalty towards the organization.
A research “Experience Radar 2012, customer insights for the US airline industry stated, “74million/year of bad experiences is created from delays, cancellations and poor communication of changes”.
The information made available should display the reason for the delay or the cancellation of the flight and what is being done to get the passengers to their destinations as soon as possible. This information should be updated at airport terminals and gates that show the flight status etc. along with this the customer service should be quick enough to contact passengers about delays by calling them, if they have enough time in advance. Information should also be updates on websites about the status of the flight so the passenger can see for themselves and plan accordingly. This creates an image of a friendly and convenient business that works towards enhancing the comfort of its passenger. Sharing information instantly gives passengers the perception of control and manages anxiety levels for them. Simple information such as the next connecting flight or the connecting gate can create a lot of comfort for the passenger.
A passenger’s baggage is their most important possession when they are flying to a destination and losing it can create a lot of discomfort in their lives. The first goal of airline regarding baggage should be to make sure the passenger gets the baggage when they land and with all their things intact securely.
If for some reason there is a delay in arrival of a baggage, because of a missed or connecting flight, airlines must ensure to deliver the baggage within 24 hours of time and keep the customer in loop for any updates of information concerning the tracking of their baggage. This pacify the consumer and makes them relaxed, since they know that they feel soon get their baggage and will not be losing on valuable information.
In some circumstance when baggage is delayed and the passenger ends up having expenses because of that then the airline should try and compensate for it. This is a great way of showing how much you care about your customers and will go the extra mile in making them comfortable.
Airlines must have well thought out policy for dealing with and serving customers who have are facing a delay in their flights due to reasons at the airlines end. The passengers should be compensated with refreshments, meals, accommodation so they can be made comfortable and don’t have to pay for any inconvenience. This way the satisfaction level will not go down the slope because of a delay in the flight, but the passenger will see the airline as reliable and dependable.
However it would be even better if your airline can try and focus more on controlling the delays and problems that are created from the airlines end. “Experience Radar 2012, customer insights for the US airline industry” also stated that:
“70% of delays and cancellations are due to factors within the control of airlines”
Companies can actually use complains positively, if firstly they handle their customers with grace, without putting the customer down. Secondly complains should be seen as ways to improve and areas that need to be focused on. Airlines must look into what the customer is complaining about and how that mistake cannot be made next time. This allows the airline to grow and slowly come to the top because they treat their customers seriously.
It would be even smarter if you get back to your customers, through email or telephone and inform them about how the team has been trying to manage their complains and care about their feedback, trying to correct the mistakes at their end, and maybe even offer them a promotion or discount when travelling next time.
Suhail bin Tarraf, chief executive of Tanfeeth – a company that aims to improve the quality of customer care – Speaking on the sidelines of the 11th GCC Government Shared Services Centers and eService’s Quality Excellence Conference he said:
“It’s difficult to put an exact figure on how much businesses are losing out, but it would be fair to say they are missing out on millions of dirhams if people take their customer’s elsewhere because of poor service.”
Our research shows that the basic goal of a successful airline must be being accessible and supportive towards its customers. This consists of Ease of obtaining service help, both before and after purchase. When a customer knows that in times of need, the customer service is going to be both easily accessible and supportive towards their needs, they naturally tend to trust them more. Many times businesses focus on pre-sale and then tend to pay less attention to post sale service, which discourages the client and makes them shift business.
Your airline must have a quick and accessible customer service system, where customers can get in touch with your team and share their problems and queries post sales as well. Showing that you’re airline isn’t just about making profits can show character about your service and your care for the customers.
It is the little gestures and surprises that give a finishing touch to a great service and win the hearts of the consumer. When you have your basics right, like better prices, more value, convenience, accessibility and other services, which consumers demand of you, you can build on them by giving a little extra. Going a little out of the way or providing personal attention, may not cost the airline much but will definitely make the customer extremely loyal and satisfied.
The generosity can be as simple as putting two friends, or family members sit together, when they have seats separated by multiple rows, or offer the customers extra juice or tea without them having to ask for it. Sometimes it nice to surprise a customer with maybe a small chocolate or a toy for their child or give extra help where needed. A customer flying the Qatar airways commented saying “
“Qatar excelled itself going out LHR-GOI. Service door to door was second to none, food and drinks excellent. Staff obliging. Helped my 92 year old mother when they could. Our return trip was not as good. Food good, drinks hard to get. Generally service not as good as outbound. Help given to my mother at all times. However I will always travel Qatar when I can and will recommend to my friends.”
This review clearly shows that the customers was very happy and especially because the staff was obliging and generous in helping his old mother who needed assistance. Despite the fact that he felt food and drinks were hard to get on the return, he will still recommend the airline to his friends, because the service catered to a personal need that ended up making him a satisfied customer. These factors may be small in scale but create big impacts in the mind of the consumer who at the end of the day feels valued!
All these factors put together can generate a great amount of customer turnover as well as satisfied customers that help companies generate profits and fight inflation in today’s cutting edge competition. Customers are usually just looking for a comfortable and affordable flight that can get them to and from destinations, giving them a satisfactory and convenient experience.
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