Why UK airlines fail so miserably at customer service?

woman tearing hair out

and COMMUNICATION defined as the imparting of information or news!

My family and I have just spent almost two and a half hours on the runway at Malaga Airport; having been re-routed from Gibraltar due to low cloud cover. I felt compelled to write this on the plane to fill in time and as I was observing the goings on of the trained stewards and stewardesses struggling to manage a fractious, hot and increasingly angry bunch of passengers.

One of those unforeseen situations I suppose; completely out of your control and and in lieu of the fact that the Rock of Gibralter ominously stares out to the sea and is one of the top ten most difficult destinations to land a plane; I for one am quite happy to be re-routed but here’s the sticking point.

Prior to landing at Malaga we were advised by the Captain of the aircraft that we would have to wait at the most thirty minutes on the runway ready for a quick departure as it was likely the cloud would disperse enabling us to land in Gibraltar.

Meanwhile; one hot and it has to be said, over-weight and harassed air steward; understandably, given the situation was becoming more and more fraught as he tried to placate the growing number of irritated customers.

It became rather apparent there was no protocol for the provisions of food and water in such circumstances.

OK, water, yes but not bottled which is by far the safest and more desirable method of distribution.

But what really makes me mad is the blatant lack of communication from any party!

We were advised further that the wait was to continue as the weather still hadn’t cleared. Co-incidentally this waiting went from thirty minutes to just over two and a half hours standing on the runway, no air conditioning just the two plane doors open, no access to the outside other than standing next to the doors, get the picture, any moment I envisaged a mass exodus down the stairway!

Why oh why couldn’t one of the stewardesses talk to the pilots to see if there was an update on the situation? I’d have settled for a regular update over the plane’s intercom even it was just to say sorry guys still waiting no progress yet!

A polite update and some visible attempt at communication would have been appreciated given the circumstances.

Why is it in the UK we are inherently poor at offering up good customer service and I consider communication to be an intrinsic part of that process.

Surely communication is paramount particularly given the situation we found ourselves in?

I have one absolute condition in my relationships with customers, employees and suppliers alike and that is communication good news, bad news, updates are all vital to the relationship you have with your client or in this case passengers.

A case in point was a meeting I had recently with one of our key print suppliers and a long standing customer.

Our customer had been experiencing some issues with some of the processes that had been implemented at the commencement of the service. For some reason, a handful of customers weren’t receiving their weekly statements and even this proved to be an an intermittent problem. It transpired, following a detailed investigation, the records of the customers were never included in the actual data files sent over by the customer despite providing detailed reconciliation reports prior to print and despatch of the documents back to our customer for checking.

But my point is this; we didn’t see it as “their problem” it was “our problem” we resolved it together we went through the protocols, enhanced and improved one or two areas changed the naming of some of the default files for better clarification and moved on.

The customer is happy and secure in the knowledge that we have his best interests at heart and moreover he’s delighted that we give good customer service at all times and always communicate keeping the customer updated on requests, changes and day to day issues. By working with the customer we demonstrated our commitment to helping them resolve the problems therefore increasing our creditability and ensuring that they feel that they have been taken care of.

I should mention that we finally landed in Gibraltar, made our way into Spain and arrived at our destination some seven hours late!

The moral of my sorry tale: Monarch Airlines communicate with your passengers update them frequently when faced with predicaments such as inclement weather and please, please have a protocol that enables the supply of snacks and drinks if you have passengers having to endure a long wait!

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