Airline’s New Strategy Is to Be Nice to CustomersBy: Alex Williams - September 24, 2013
Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline, and is well known for its eccentric and quirky CEO, Michael O’Leary, as well as its rising poor image and rudeness.
According to Reuters, the company has promised that it would change its “abrupt culture” in an effort to bring in customers from more expensive competitors.
You see, Ryanair might have caught some flak over the years for treating its passengers poorly; shareholders retold anecdotes about employees cursing them out at dinner parties, and overcharging for the slightest weight difference in oversize carry-on bags.
“I have seen people crying at boarding gates,” said Owen O’Reilly, a private shareholder. “There is simply something wrong there that needs to be addressed.”
The consumer magazine Which?, which claims to have surveyed 3 million customers, reported that out of the 100 biggest brands serving the British market, Ryanair was the worst. In response, last Friday, the Irish firm said that it would revamp its attitude and communication towards customers, as well as be more lenient towards customers with oversized carry-on baggage by not issuing as many fines.
“We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off,” O’Leary said at the company’s annual general meeting, responding to the criticisms of shareholders that the airline’s brash customer service was impacting profits.
O’Leary usually makes light of customer complaints by responding with citied statistics of revenue growth; cash rules everything around me. Back in 2009, O’Leary mentioned in a press conference that a Swedish passenger made a suggestion on Ryanair’s website that the company should install rolls of toilet paper with O’Leary’s face on them, and that customers would be happy enough to pay one euro a sheet. O’Leary responded, saying, “perhaps [I am] the most handsome and most attractive airline chief in Europe, and people want to take away a memento with my face on it.”
Such was not the case at the general meeting, when shareholder’s voiced their concerns over how their own family wouldn’t even fly Ryanair because of the poor customer service.
“I am very happy to take the blame of responsibility if we have a macho or abrupt culture. Some of that may well be my own personal character deformities,” O’Leary said.
Costumers are in for a splendid treat, as O’Leary mentioned how the company’s website will be overhauled. A new team will be hired in the customer service department that will address e-mails.
“A lot of those customer services elements don’t cost a lot of money … It’s something we are committed to addressing over the coming year.”
(Pictures courtesy of WikiCommons and YouTube)