In what seems to be a low point for airline customer experience, Ryanair might start charging passengers to go to the bathroom. This discount airline doesn’t cut any slack for its customers. It charges for even slightly overweight luggage and extra carry-ons like duty-free shopping bags, and offers no refunds or apologies. Here’s a a quote by Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s somewhat surly CEO:
Will we give you a refund on a nonrefundable ticket because your granny died unexpectedly? No! Go away. We’re not interested in your sob stories! What part of ‘no refund’ do you not understand?
My take: Yech! That sounds like a horrible airline!! But is it bad customer experience management? I’m not so sure. O’Leary very clearly articulates the four elements of his airline’s value proposition: low fares, a good on-time record, few cancellations and few lost bags.
As I’ve discussed in earlier posts, customer experience is not about delivering Disney-esque moments or trying to make people happy at all costs. Good customer experience management is about Consistently delivering on brand promises that resonate with customers. So you can’t rate a firm’s customer experience management efforts without fully understanding its brand strategy.
To determine whether Ryanair is practicing good customer experience management, we would first need to answer these questions:
- What segment of passengers really care about low fares, a good on-time record, few cancellations and few lost bags?
- Does the lowering of service levels help achieve those four key things?
- What level of experience are the target passengers willing to trade off to get those four key things?
It’s very possible that the lousy service at Ryanair comes from appropriate trade-offs in the airline’s customer experience management strategy.
One thing that I can say for sure: Ryanair is not for me. But then again, O’Leary probably knows that I’m not one of Ryanair’s target customers.
The bottom line: A bad customer experience does not always mean bad customer experience management