Continuing the airline theme by taking a look at our own national airline in terms of the company motto and how poor decisions within the organisation affect customer loyalty. As seen on the Ba.com website:
“At British Airways our promise of ‘To Fly. To Serve’ embodies who we are and what we do. We want to ensure our promise extends beyond our everyday operation and that our commitment is one that lasts. To do that we have one overarching goal: Responsible Flying.”
Taking this “promise” of “We fly to serve”, further, I have been flying one route for the last 20 years with BA at least 5-6 times per year, not to mention other flights to other destinations. I believe I have been a fairly loyal customer and I am qualified to comment on how this motto of “Fly to Serve” has changed in service delivery on this particular route, and how that has affected my loyalty.
Today, on this flight, which is approximately 3.5 hours there have been several changes, all of which have occurred in the last 12-18 months:
- From being served a hot meal, offered hot and cold drinks there is now no food, no drink or snack unless you want to buy it from the M&S menu.
- The ticket price has gone up considerably and for the last two flights on this same route, I took another airline. All be it not a direct flight, but the price was more than 50% less! And I got a meal on one and a sandwich on the other together with a hot or cold drink of my choice.
- Interest of the cabin crew has decreased considerably. The last flight I was on the crew served the M&S food to those who wanted it and then sat at the back of the plane and talked loudly to each other for the rest of the flight. I don’t want to hear what stewardesses do in their spare time with their children, husbands and dogs, or any other thing they want to discuss!
- If I fly hand luggage only, I either have to pay extra to choose my seat when checking in 24-hours before or sit where my seat is allocated, hence having to listen to the cabin crew discussion!
Further reflecting on “Fly to Serve”, I am encouraged to earn Avios points thus the more I earn, the more loyalty I am giving to the airline. Fair enough, and a winner for both parties. Using my earned points was, I believe, to be a reward to be able to use them on a future flight. As this is a loyalty programme, why then am I penalized for being loyal? I recently redeemed some of my Avios points for a long weekend in a European city. Being only a long weekend, I don’t require much luggage, and therefore flying hand luggage is reasonable. As usual I check in on line 24-hours before to do just that – check in and print my boarding pass making the whole experience easier for BA and myself as I self-organise for the flight. To my surprise, using my points, I am again penalised as my option to choose my own seat, unless paying more has been removed. Thus having to sit in the seat allocated.
How does an organisation with the motto “We fly to serve” make such decisions that lead to giving with the right hand, which helps earn the airline revenue and loyalty, and then taking it away with the left? Clearly these two policies are in conflict. Where are the managers who are supposed to ensure a company provides consistent messages to its customers? Messages that give the impression that customers are valued and we do care which is reasonable with such a company motto?
What is the affect of these decisions? As I have free will and the possibility to choose who I fly with, it is clear that most of us would prefer to fly with an airline that actually values its customers and serves them in the fullest sense of the word. Where the experience on board is safe, friendly and efficient and the rules for one passenger in the same class are the same as for all passengers, whether travelling hand luggage or with hold baggage. Most importantly, I am welcomed and rewarded for my loyalty.
It is a shame that the motto is no longer delivering its promise due to poor managerial decision-making, but I guess we can be thankful that at least the “flying” part is still being delivered!