consulting, customer service, Low-cost carrier, management, Michael O'Leary, Northern California Consultants, Ryanair
Mike and the Customer is a very good blog about how to improve things for the customer. One of Mike Bird’s recent posts caught my eye: Ryanair: kings of the customer experience. I prepared the following as a bit of conversation between Mike and me. If you’re interested in following along, please read his Ryanair article too. Ryanair is a low-cost Irish airline.
Mike, I really enjoyed your post and I’ve reread it a few times. Considering solely what’s in it, something seems a bit off to me in terms of emphasis. I don’t think the most interesting observation is, “Customer experience is not about being nice, it’s about meeting strategic goals.” Rather, I prefer something closer to, “Ryanair succeeds precisely because it is one of the few companies to have understood exactly the customer experience that it needs to compete strategically…”
My take is it’s about Ryanair understanding what its customers consider value. As you say, they value, “…Low cost, on time, with bags, that’s it.” From this perspective I read the story as a triumph of understanding the customer and driving the organization to deliver what they value without compromise.
To me, Ryanair hasn’t, “…Designed a customer experience to compete strategically.” Their customers don’t care about it and they know it. Instead Ryanair has chosen a low-cost, high-efficiency strategy vis-à-vis their competition to meet the needs of the utilitarian traveler. In that space customer “service” is all that is required and an experience isn’t a consideration. That being said, I do love the Michael O’Leary quotes you use (CEO Ryanair). He obviously knows how to promote his brand through the Press. Making fun of “Mother” is much more memorable than some dry statistic about on-time rates for take offs and departures.
© Copyright Jim Lucas 2007-2013 All Rights Reserved
Mike Bird said:
Great post – I’m pleased you liked the Ryanair article. I suspect we are agreeing violently – the start point is understanding your customer and then managing your business to best meet their expectations against the things that they value.
Where I may differ is with regard to your the assertion, in almost your last sentence, that “…customer “service” is all that is required and an experience isn’t a consideration.”
I think every organisation provides a customer experience. Some may manage it actively, some may not, but each of their customers has a distinctive experience when they engage with them. My point is that I think Ryanair does manage the experience actively – but that they are only concerned with the experience associated with those aspects of the service which they believe their customers most value. Part of the management of this experience is actively to set a low bar for customer expectations for ancillary services around this core.
Get you there on time? Sure.
Complaints? Don’t care, so don’t bother.
This requires absolute strategic focus, discipline and ruthlessness.
And very few organisations demonstrate such clarity of thought and action.
Do I like Ryanair? Not at all. But I do have to admire them.
You have prompted me, however, to develop my thinking on this topic – expect a related posting on http://www.mikeandthecustomer.com soon.
Pingback: Ryanair’s customer experience revisited | Mike and the Customer
Lucavia Consulting said:
Thanks for the conversation. Very stimulating. Ryanair’s looking pretty good in any case. Thanks for your original analysis and thinking.
Mike Bird said:
You’re welcome. And thanks for taking a view different from mine.
Even so, I don’t think, in practice, the places we might take our clients would be very different.
Mike Bird said:
My post which was prompted by your article can be found here. (http://mikeandthecustomer.com/2013/06/24/ryanairs-customer-experience-revisited/) All feedback gratefully received.