Ryanair Customer Service
The success of a company is to a great extent influence by the level of customer service. Ryanair has been facing problems regarding customer service as a study revealed that it is one of the brands with least satisfied customers. The company has been offering low-cost flights to cost conscious customers (Malighetti, Paleari & Redondi 2009,p.96). The relatively low prices have enabled the company to build a large customer base. In the year 2013, the company was the busiest European airline regarding the number of passengers (Monitor 2015,p.6). Ryanair was established in the year 1984 as a short distance carrier. It has since then expanded concerning the fleet size, destinations, and customer base. Currently, the company has a fleet of 349 Boeing 737-800 airplanes and continues to increase the fleet size. The company has over 9000 employees that are deployed in different areas of operations (Barrett 2004,p.93). Ryanair remains profitable despite the turbulence that has been facing the airline industry in the past one decade. This report brings to light the customer service problems facing Ryanair and points out what needs to be done to ensure customer satisfaction.
Types of Customers in the Touring and Travel Sector
Touring and travel organizations have different classes of customers. The ability to generate income depends on the extent to which each category of clients is satisfied. Successful airlines evaluate the needs of different client categories and come up with a strategy for addressing each market segment. Key customers in touring and travel sector include business-to-business, business-to-customer, customer-to-customer, and business-to-government (Miles & Mangold 2005,p.535). Business-to-business customers involve a business engaging another business as a customer. Airlines have corporate customers with diverse needs. Businesses move employees and clients long distances that necessitate engagement of airlines. Corporate clients buy in bulk making them major revenue contributors. Such customers seek to get discounts emanating from their consumption magnitude and frequency of buying. Business-to-customer clients are individuals who seek flight services to serve private needs. People have diverse traveling needs ranging from leisure, business, and education among other needs. They form the largest part of the total customers in the airline sector. Business-to-government customers arise from airline offering services to government agencies. Government officials move from one location to the other in the course of offering services to the citizens. Countries have national carriers that are mostly used by government agencies. However, these agencies are not prevented from using private carriers. Customer-to-customer customers come up when an owner of an airplane whose business is not hiring planes allows others to use the plane for a fee(Miles & Mangold 2005,p.539). Such an arrangement usually occurs when a plane owner wishes to minimize the plane’s idle hours. These assets are expensive to maintain thus requiring owners to come up with strategies for meeting maintenance costs. Private hiring arrangements enable the owners to generate revenue. Business-to-business, business-to-government, and business-to-customer are the most relevant customers in the commercial airline industry.
The Effectiveness of Customer Service in the Travel and Tourism Industry
Customer service plays a crucial role in the travel and tourism industry. Outstanding customer service enables an organization to gain a competitive advantage. It is essential that managers maintain good customer service so as to ensure customers satisfaction. Clients can only make repeat purchases when they are satisfied with services rendered. Customer service creates specific benefits to travel and tourism firms.
It ensures prompt reaction to customer complaints (Eboli & Mazzula 2009,p.25). Customers usually give feedback for services offered especially when an ideal feedback environment exists. It is the manager’s responsibility to create an environment that supports negative and positive feedback. Workers interacting directly with customers should be attentive to customer complaints to ensure such complaints are used as a basis for improving service delivery. Customer loyalty is compromised when customers find that their complaints are not taken seriously by the seller. It is, therefore, necessary to communicate to them that their complaints are being addressed. An effective customer service is one that supports taking of correction actions in case of customer complaints.
Good customer service supports the creation of positive employee attitudes. An organization can only improve customer services when employees have positive attitudes. Good customer service begins with smiling employees. It is essential to invest in training to ensure employees interacting with the customers know how to make the latter happy. Workers should avoid complaining in the presence of customers as it sends a negative image of the organization to external stakeholders. A cheerful attitude among the employees makes clients happy thus giving them a wonderful experience during a transaction.
Customer service enables a travel and tourist firm to meet customer expectations. Customer loyalty is pegged on the extent to which a seller meets customer expectations. Customers have diverse expectations, and it is the seller’s responsibility to understand the specific customer expectations. The travel and tourism sector is characterized by customers with unique needs. Workers need to be attentive to customer specifications to ensure services are tailored to meet specific customer needs.
Finally, ideal customer service supports service recovery(Eboli & Mazzula 2009,p.24). Sometimes errors happen in the course of serving customers. Service recovery is the process of restoring normalcy after service delivery failure. Travel and tourism organization should act swiftly in case of a service delivery shortfall. Prompt action saves the company from the negative ramifications of such occurrences. It also builds customer’s confidence in the organization.
Benefits that Improved Customer Service Could Bring to Ryanair
Improved customer service could bring specific benefits to Ryanair. It would create positive attitudes among the employees. The company’s crew and front office workers need to have positive attitudes so as to create sustainable relationships with the customers. In the past, Ryanair has faced constrained relationships with the workers that can dent customer service. In the year 2011, there was an incident where the company’s employees were denied the right to join a union. It is clear the company’s employees are aggrieved in various ways and improving customer service requires emphasis to be put on creating positive attitudes among workers. It requires an investment in improving the employees’ welfare so as to create positive attitudes. A motivated workforce would be of great benefit to Ryanair as it improves labor productivity that translates into higher profits.
Improved customer service would enable the company to build customer loyalty. The company has been pursuing an aggressive expansion strategy in the past three decades. Its market share has increased rapidly due to the relatively low prices. The ability of the company to increase its market share is however at stake due to the unsatisfied customers. Increasing the market share requires emphasis to be put on retaining the existing customers as well as acquiring new ones. Building customer loyalty enables a firm to retain the existing customers. It also enables an organization to attract new customers as loyal customers spread positive information about the service provider. Ryanair would, therefore, benefit immensely from improved customer service due to the enhanced ability to expand the market share.
Improved customer services would enable Ryanair to cut costs. The company has over the years remained committed to reducing operating costs. Cost centers are controlled to enable the company to maintain a reasonable profit margin. Improved customer service reduces the cost of correcting mistakes. In other words, an emphasis is put on avoiding substandard services likely to lead to customer refund or compensation. Sometimes complaining customers are given discounts to calm them down. Improved customer service ensures things are done right from the word go.
The Use and Importance of Quality Systems in the Travel and Tourism Industry
Quality means a lot in the travel and tourism industry. Firms operating in this industry invest in quality management to ensure that service delivery meets the highest quality standards. Firms that can improve on quality gain a competitive advantage. There are many quality systems applicable in the travel and tourism industry. It is important to conduct a comprehensive evaluation before deciding on the ideal quality systems. Common quality systems applicable in the travel and tourism sector include the RATER model, TQM, benchmarking, and quality circle (Manghani 2011,p.35). Application of quality systems in the travel and tourism industry has direct impacts on service delivery. It focuses on different aspects of processes affecting service delivery. Organizations implementing quality systems reap much benefit that makes it necessary to put ideal emphasis on quality management.
Application of quality systems improves service delivery. The success of an airline is determined by the quality of service delivery. Customers are quality conscious, and they, therefore, stick to organizations offering quality services. There are many low-cost airlines implying that competition is high. Low-cost airlines pursue quality as means of gaining a competitive advantage. Quality systems point out the specific quality risks and come up with mitigation strategies. Emphasis is put on monitoring processes with an aim of ensuring quality risks do not compromise service delivery. Quality systems are applied at different stages of the business process right from acquisition of airplanes to engagement of customers. Airlines specify the features that should incorporate in the aircraft when placing orders. The main suppliers for large aircraft are Airbus and Boeing. These companies strive to ensure specific customer specifications are met. Quality management in airlines requires emphasis to be put on making the right specifications so as to ensure the airplane’s structure does not compromise service delivery.
In addition to service delivery improvement, quality systems support the creation of customer loyalty that emanates from improved service delivery. Brand loyalty in the travel and tourism sector is of great importance. Customers become loyal to a brand when they get maximum value for their money. An airline gives customers value when the services rendered are in line with the price charged. Low-cost airlines are tempted to compromise quality in the quest for cost reduction. Quality systems ensure service delivery is not compromised even when the company is under pressure to cut costs.
Using quality systems leads to higher profitability. Profit in all industries is increased by increasing the revenue, reducing costs, or both (Pitt, Watson & Kavan 1995,p.175). Quality systems support increasing revenue and cost reduction. The systems improve service delivery that in turn increases customer loyalty. High customer loyalty makes it easy for a company to increase sales. Regarding cost, quality systems support cost reduction by reducing the rate of errors.
Using the RATER Model to Improve Service Delivery at Ryanair
Ryanair’s customers are not satisfied making it necessary to come up with a strategy to address customer complaints. The company scored poorly on valued as a customer, service knowledge, staff helpfulness, problems and complaints resolution, and access to customer support. The RATER model is the best suitable quality system for addressing the complaints raised by customers. This model brings to light five critical areas that customers find important when consuming a product. The areas are Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness.
On reliability, the customers consider the capacity of the service provider to deliver the concerned services on time, accurately, and consistently. Focusing on reliability can to a great extent enable Ryanair to improve service delivery. Currently, the Ryanair brand is valued poorly by the customers that clearly indicate that the company is failing on reliability. Measures need to be implemented to enhance reliability. Enhancing accuracy is one of the perspectives of improving reliability. Accuracy in service delivery is of great importance as it is directly related to customer satisfaction. Customers need to be given accurate flight schedules to avoid unnecessary delays. Consistency needs to be enhanced by avoiding fluctuation of service delivery. The customer should be able to tell clearly the nature and quality standards of services they intend to get from the airline. The airline also needs to institute proper time management to ensure customers get services on a timely basis.
Assurance as an element of the RATER model considers the ability of employees to use their competence to create confidence and trust. It, therefore, emphasize on skills, credibility, and knowledge. Ryanair can use the assurance element to improve service delivery. The company needs to invest in training and development to enable the staff to acquire competency regarding service delivery. It is clear the company’s workforce is incompetent in customer relations. The workers need to be taught on using their skills to build customer confidence.
Ryanair should also put emphasis on tangibles. The tangible element of RATER model focuses on the creation of evidence of services rendered. The company should make its staff visible to the actual and potential customers to provide an interface with the clients. Ryanair should also release advertisement materials to the market to communicate the services offered.
Empathy in the RATER model considers employee-customer relationships. The current relationship between the customers and employees is bad as the survey revealed that customers felt that the company’s staff is not helpful. The company can improve service delivery by encouraging the staff to apply interpersonal skills. These skills would support friendly relationships between the between the customers and workers.
Responsiveness focuses on enhancing reaction to customer demands. The company has been performing poorly on responding to customer complaints. It is, therefore, necessary to enhance the ability to respond to customer demands. Customer needs and expectations in the airline sector are dynamics that requires firms to stay close to the customers. Any variation in customer needs should be reflected in service delivery.
Ryanair is facing problems in service delivery, and prompt actions are needed. Improving customer service in the travel and tourism industry is important as it is a key success factor. It creates specific benefits to an airline that makes it necessary to put measures aimed at improving service delivery. Ryanair would benefit immensely from improving customer service. The company’s poor rating can be addressed by improving customer service. Quality systems enable a firm to improve customer service. There are different quality systems applicable in the travel and touring industry one of them being the RATER model. The model is based on five areas viewed by customers as important regarding customer service. Applying the model would enable Ryanair to achieve major improvements in customer service. Emphasis should be put on each element as the company seems to have problems in each of the five areas.
Specific steps need to be taken to ensure the company realizes improvements on customer service. These steps include:
- Training: the company should invest in staff training to ensure workers possess the necessary skills. The training should emphasize on interpersonal and communication skills to support the building of sustainable relationships with the customers.
- Advertisement: Ryanair should implement an aggressive advertising strategy aimed at informing the market about the company’s services.
- Flexibility: the company should enhance flexibility in reacting to changes in customer needs.
List of References
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