One of life’s inevitabilities as a CX professional is that the subject of Ryanair will always come up in conversation at some point before, during or after a dinner party. For those of you who do not know them (and that will not be many of you), Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline. Ryanair is a low-cost airline often accused of treating their customers with contempt. Ryanair is a low-cost airline who are regularly highlighted as a company that is only concerned about profit. Ryanair is a low-cost airline that at one stage were reported to be considering charging customers for using the on board toilet facilities. Ryanair is a low-cost airline that anyone in the CX profession will probably not consider as the airline to take them to their next CX conference!
Ryanair ‘bashing’ has become a regular sport – not just at informal dinner parties, but at any customer experience gathering. They are touted as being the best example of how not to treat customers. ‘How can any organisation have a culture that regards the customer so low down the list of priorities?’. I have to say that Ryanair is not my cup of tea. The question I want to answer in this blog is why it is not my cup of tea – my answers may surprise you.
When you turn up to a theatre to watch the show you booked twelve months before, you are quite rightly excited. You are quite rightly full of ‘expectations’ – you are hoping for the performance to fulfil, or even maybe exceed your expectations. For any performance, whether it be theatrical or the outcome of a customer service interaction, to meet a customers expectation, the customer is likely to have some knowledge of whatever it is they are about to watch, receive, or interact with. The reason I do not choose to fly with Ryanair, is because I personally do not like what they offer – they are an airline who do not have a product that meets my own personal expectations – as a result, I personally choose not to fly with them. I sometimes like to have an inflight snack provided as part of the cost of my ticket – Ryanair do not do this. I like to know what seat I am going to be sitting in – Ryanair do not do this. I like to be able to check in a bag at no extra cost – Ryanair do not do this. I know all of these things because they are well publicised – Ryanair’s website is very clear about what they do and do not do.
Just because Ryanair do not do the things I want does not make them a bad airline. Just because they do not do the things thousands of consumers want does not make them a bad airline. Flying with Ryanair is no different to buying the low-cost food option in the supermarket. You know that the quality is not as good, but it is YOUR CHOICE to take the lower budget option.
What all the Ryanair bashers (and I have been guilty of it myself in the past) fail to point out is the ‘flip side’ of the argument. Ryanair is the epitome of ‘no frills’ – I am sure even they would agree. But what Ryanair excels at – in fact what Ryanair consistently demonstrates excellence at is consistency of service. What Ryanair say they will give you – they will give you – exactly as they said they would – almost 100% of the time. Ryanair is the most punctual airline, that loses the fewest bags, with the lowest number of complaints in the industry. Let me repeat – they get very few complaints. That is because Ryanair are experts at:
CONSISTENTLY MEETING CUSTOMER EXPECTATION
The bashers who moan and complain about Ryanair are most likely people who failed to do their research. With Ryanair, you get what you pay for – and it is very unlikely to go wrong. With other higher cost airlines, many of us would wish we could say the same thing.
On their website, Ryanair have a long list of customers saying what a great customer experience travelling with Ryanair was (http://www.ryanair.com/en/about/customer-feedback). Whilst I cannot help read many of these with a twinge of dubiousness in my mind (much of what the quotes claim would have been easily replicated by any other airline in the same situation), it is nice to hear positive things being said about Ryanair for a change. Other websites are not so kind. A lady called Liz has a great blog with some fantastic Ryanair horror stories (http://www.youngadventuress.com/2012/09/my-ryanair-horror-stories.html) – right up the Ryanair ‘bashers’ street!!
So what is the point of all of this? For every positive there is a negative. For every great British Airways story, there is an equally great British Airways horror story. The same can be said for any organisation. Whilst Ryanair can never claim to be a brand that dreams of providing the best, most luxurious, world-class airline service in the world, it is not a brand that was ever created to do so. Being the best, most luxurious, world-class brand in any industry does not automatically mean that the same brand delivers the best customer experience. A great customer experience is one that consistently meets and exceeds customer expectation. Whilst Ryanair may not exceed expectation 100% of the time, they certainly meet expectation – and they meet it far more often than most.
Ryanair are an airline that has been affected least by the economic downturn. They continue to grow in a very tough environment. They have got their product right. They have got their pricing right. They are giving customers what they want – it is that simple. Will all of this make me change my mind? Will I choose to fly with Ryanair? The answer is no. They do not sell the kind of product I want – that does not make them a bad company – does it?
How good is your organisation at consistently meeting customer expectation? Are you as good as Ryanair? I would be delighted if you would comment on this or indeed any of my blogs.