Ryanair's Promise To Improve Customer Service

Customer Retention
Customer Service
Europe's biggest budget airline has pledged to improve its customer service.

Delivering great customer service is not an option for organizations to succeed. It is a must. Customers, after all, vote with their feet and will be very quick to stop doing business with an organization that doesn't deliver the service they expect.Yet there are still organizations that are notorious for their less-than-stellar customer service. At least one of them has vowed to change its stripes and, in the words of its CEO, "try to eliminate things that unnecessarily" annoy customers.

This company is Ryanair, the Dublin-based budget airline that elicits mixed feelings among its customers. Some love its low-cost, no-frills flights, others will gladly pay more for better service. But last month Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's outspoken boss--in the past he had even pledged to charge passengers for using the bathrooms--said he'd shoulder responsibility "if we have a macho or abrupt culture." O'Leary also said that a lot of issues that led to regular complaints, for example customers being fined because their hand luggage was fractionally over the size limit, "don't cost a lot of money." The airline came under fire in September when Ireland's Daily Mail reported that it charged a man whose whole family had died in a fire to change to an earlier flight. Ryanair later pledged to refund the passenger.

As The Financial Times reported, it was customers' complaints that drove O'Leary's decision. Apparently he got fed up having people come up to him to complain about his airline.

While it's great that the airline will be improving its customer service, will this be too late for passengers who have been burnt by Ryanair's mediocre service in the past? Will these customers believe O'Leary and give Ryanair another chance to win them back? We'll have to wait and see, but any action to improve customer service is a step in the right direction.