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Ever Heard of Customer Service BA?

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!

  • http://www.barsandnightclubs.com.au Bars and Night Clubs

    There is a very important concept within the airline industry called “service recovery” What this means is that a customer satisfaction rating can be higher if there is a problem which is resolved effectively, then if everything runs smoothly..

    Obviously in this instance this didnt happen, however generally airlines have systems in place to manage and communicate delays with customers

  • http://www.terrydean.org/ nancy

    Hi,
    Your comments about customer service are really helpful. I was just wondering, where is the fine line between no information and too much information? How does one know where to stop with the information? Sometimes too much information without the proper explanation can be harmful, also, can’t it? I like to tell the whole truth, but sometimes it has been misunderstood and done more harm than good. Thanks.

  • http://atroy.ru Samanta

    Travell after hall week of hard work not a good idea. Better used this chance at the vacation time, thats my mind :)

  • http://www.promomanagers.com promo

    BA has had a rough patch lately. Aren’t they the same airline that had the wing tip fall off the plane and wanted to fly anyway a few weeks back? I think they also had the co-pilot pass away on an international flight.
    I suppose they’re fairing better than Southwest right now though.

  • http://www.herbalpainsolutions.com Chris

    Well fortunately I haven’t flown BA yet, but did have a terrible time in Heathrow last time I was there. That airport is a total mess.

  • http://www.passiveincome15.com Jim Carlin | 15 Days To A Passive Income Machine

    I was just on an american flight that sat for three hours on the runway. While everyone was pretty pissed off, the updates they gave about every 20 minutes did help a lot. Of course after that they gave out vouchers for a hotel stay that the hotel refused to honor . . .

  • http://music.podfire.org Music.Podfire.org

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

  • http://www.returncustomer.com Joe Rawlinson

    Andy,

    Thanks for the kind words and link to Return Customer.

    It is amazing how much communication can impact perceptions and customer relationships. Your example with BA is a great one of how if they had just explained even a little information, it would have diffused a lot of frustration and anger.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/adult_dyslexia adult dyslexia

    Information can go a long way to calm people down. It can be a hassle to get out but it may mean less hassling with angry costumers.

  • http://www.ttloans.co.uk TT LoanShark

    Here’s a tip for ya: only travel Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Any strikes or construction work will have stopped by then, and there’s way fewer people travelling, which means less queueing and upsets.