On a recent trip to Dusseldorf I had the pleasure of flying with British Airways. I say the pleasure, because the flight was quick, painless and the service if nothing else was rapid.
However, I have to also comment on the experience off the airplane to give you the rounded picture. For anyone following the UK news, you’ll now that last week two things of interest happened at London Heathrow:
1. a lunatic ran on to one of the runways carrying a suitcase which he left on the runway
2. the Queen officially opened the brand new Terminal 5 building
So what you might ask has this got to do with British Airways and customer service?
First of all both occurrences delayed my flight – on the outbound and inbound journey. To be fair, I can’t really complain about this what so ever, BA after all had no control over the lunatic running onto the airport which resulted in additional security for Her Majesty’s visit the following day.
However, what I can complain about is the complete lack of information from BA. While waiting at Heathrow for over two hours all I was told by the information desk was to have patience. When I enquired in the BA lounge at Heathrow, they actually had a little more information, but not much.
On the return journey, it was the same story: no information at all from the staff at the gate, even though we were kept waiting for about an hour.
All this got me to thinking about how negative I was feeling towards BA.
Not knowing why there were delays I naturally assumed it was the airline’s fault, particularly as they were unwilling to talk about it. Has this done some damage to BA’s brand? Yes quite possibly.
I shared my experience with my colleagues in Dusseldorf (several others of whom got caught in the delays also) and of course I’m writing about it now. Will I fly with BA again? Probably, but not until I’ve checked out the alternatives. Strange isn’t it, after all, BA are not to blame at all. It was just a lack of communications that left me feeling disappointed.
What are the lessons then?
I think it is clearly that when things are going a little pear shaped, keep the customer informed. Whether that’s a announcement at an airport, a phone call, or a quick email. All of these small steps will help to keep the customer informed and a little happier.
We all know that happiness has a direct correlation with repeat business and making recommendations to friends, family and other potential customers.
For more ideas on customer communications, visit the excellent return customer blog from Joe Rawlinson. Joe talks a lot about keeping customers properly informed, whether that’s to reinforce negativity in the sales process, or simply getting the basics right in answering the phones.
Don’t forget, keep communicating with your customers!