Ryanair= Good CX? Really?

Air travel is an emotive subject. Especially if you are (like me) a keen traveller and (like me) have an opinion on anything that frequently fails to meet your expectations. My wife says its just part of becoming a grumpy old git but, nevertheless, flying does stir up my emotions. This is particularly true given that I am a qualified pilot…even though you wouldn’t want to fly with Davey Airlines (see below)

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Therefore, when I read this post by Sampson Lee, I was equally intrigued and irked. Could the author really be making a case for Ryanair to be delivering “good” CX? His logic is based on the principle upon brands delivering on its promise. Ryanair does not compete on service. It is a low cost airline. It is ‘no frills’ and my experience of flying with them left me vowing never to choose them again, even if at the time, I was flying with a wife and 4 kids with all the luggage that entails. For my experience wasn’t about service. I had low expectations. I did not expect a meal, comfy seat or a back massage. I did expect courtesy, communication and professionalism. On those scores, I was disappointed.

Since that experience 15 years ago, Ryanair has often made the press for the wrong reasons. Indeed, I was in full agreement with Colin Shaws post citing his opinion of Ryanair’s CX. However, Sampson Lee argues that Ryanair is profitable and delivering on its brand promise. I cannot disagree but does that constitute the basis of good CX?

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I agree with Sampson in that CX is not just about customer service. A great customer experience can often be about making a buying process easier (just look at Amazon’s one click process) or providing a much valued opt in notification that allows you to make more informed choices. It does not have to be a premium based service. To provide a “wow” moment, it takes innovation, outside-in thinking and a culture of customer empathy.

Let me give an example of great CX that made me go Wow and has retained my loyalty, despite my previous leanings towards travelling with Uber.

My local taxi firm, Betty’s, is trying hard to compete with far larger companies and, of course, Uber. They are, in my view, incredibly cheap already and many of the drivers are both courteous and dependable. They released an app which, for a small company, is very useful allowing you to both book and track your cab. I find this very useful but, these days, it is almost the norm. The way they wowed me was over the holiday period in December and January.

I received a notification telling me that their fares would remain EXACTLY the same over the Christmas and New Year periods. I was amazed. Not only am I used to seeing premiums being charged at busy times but also customers expect to pay more. The Uber pricing model dictates this. Just try getting an Uber late at night.

This decision exceeded my expectation as a customer and helped reinforce my pride in my local cab firm. I use them all the time and never bother to go anywhere locally on Uber.

This rather reinforces the argument that good CX is not about a premium service experience. How often have you gone online expecting to find something difficult or confusing only to say “wow, that was easy”? That, in my book, is a great customer experience. Conversely, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) which passes you from pillar to post, or voice recognition that misinterprets your command is a bad customer experience, despite the intention to make your life simpler!!!

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In conclusion, I think the delivery of outstanding Customer Experience is about far surpassing a customers expectations. The “wow” factor. It could be service related and you might pay a premium for that service. However, I content that for a brand to be recognised as one delivering outstanding CX and worthy of customer advocacy, then it needs to exceed a customers preconcieved expectation. In my book, Ryanair does not do this and does not deliver good CX. I’d be interested to hear what others think.

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