I flew back into London early on Monday morning from Singapore on a Qantas codeshare with British Airways. The in-flight BA experience was flawless, after thirteen and a half hours in the air we touched down fifteen minutes early. No problems with passport control and then I hit baggage collection.
The baggage carousels weren’t turning. A number of arrived long haul flights were listed with an ‘awaiting carousel’ message. Frustration was in the air. I wandered towards the British Airways service counter interested to see how BA were handling this customer experience issue. Not very well was what I saw.
“Look! just stop complaining and let us do our job” shouted the ‘Team Supervisor’ at an irate customer who had been waiting for almost an hour. Rather than providing information, transparency and honesty, the face of BA was shouting at customers with a ‘jobsworth‘ attitude. All that good work on the plane was lost. A dozen or so customers witnessed the rude abuse that the employee was ranting. This maybe acceptable if you are Ryanair and your brand is not built upon customer experience, but for BA it most certainly is not.
Stories of bad customer experiences are like viruses. Ian McKee describes a study that suggests that “overall, if 100 people have a bad experience, a retailer stands to lose between 32 and 36 current or potential customers”.
Unfortunatly my phone battery was dead, otherwise I would have recorded the interaction for your viewing pleasure. Then it would not have been a dozen people who witnessed the terrible customer service. More than 366,000 people have viewed South West airlines seven hours on the tarmac (and google returns almost 19,000 results for “south west airlines 7 hours on plane tarmac“). Employees need to understand that they are brand ambassadors, in a world where video cameras are ubiquitous poor customer service goes beyond the word of mouth, it now becomes viral.
Bruce Temkin shows the below ‘experience wheel’ that lego use for designing customer experiences. It is relevant as it touches the airline experience, mapping all the customer touchpoints, and what the make or break moments are. This is a useful exercise that BA could learn from. Delivering a compelling customer experience with your core services is no longer enough, anywhere that your brand touches customers must be excellent.