‘We got caught up in operational efficiency’, admits Ryanair

By Robin Searle

Ryanair has admitted it “got caught up in operational efficiency and forgot about the customer” as it continues a drive to improve its customer service.

Speaking at a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast in London, the airline’s director of customer service Caroline Green said the carrier was in the process of changing from an “operational-centric” to a “customer-centric” business.

And she insisted that recent efforts to improve its service had been planned before it issued a profit warning in September last year.

“We got to a point about 18 months ago where we could see new customers trying us once and then moving off, so we started looking at what was turning them off and what we could change,” she told guests.

Referring to changes to baggage rules, excess charges and the introduction of grace periods on bookings, she added:

“These things were in train (before the profit warning) but there was an impetus for change and we jumped on it while the press were receptive and Michael (O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive) was receptive.

“We are not there yet and it is a work in progress, but we are removing the barriers that stopped people enjoying their Ryanair flight.”

Green said additional improvements included an overhaul of the Ryanair website to streamline the visitor experience and reduce the overt promotion of ancillary sales, and the empowerment of airport staff to allow them to deal with specific problems rather than having to stick rigidly to policy.

“We got caught up in operational efficiency and forgot about the customer,” she said.

“But we have made fundamental change in the organisation and people are responding incredibly positively.”

Despite the raft of changes which are being introduced, Green said Ryanair’s key focus was still on delivering low prices and insisted that better customer service did not necessarily equate to more personal contact.

“The last thing customers want to do is talk to you,” she said. “Our research shows that the majority of people want to get through the experience and on to their flight without having to contact somebody.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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