Emirates flying high but Ryanair struggles for lift-off

New research into how airlines are faring on the customer service front reveal some gaps that could be improved by technological innovation

Despite Ryanair’s promise that it would put customer service at the centre of everything just over a year ago, a recent survey by EyeforTravel and Relay42 finds that not only are long-haul carriers faring better but its direct competition is also still coming up trumps.

Respondents to the EyeforTravel and Relay42 survey were asked to rate airlines’ customer service out of 10. Scoring highest among airlines that received over 100 responses was Emirates, which achieved an average score of 7.65. Ryanair, on the other hand, scored 6 out of 10, placing them at the lower of all the airlines surveyed. Of particular concern to Ryanair should be the fact that its major competitors scored better; Wizz Air received 6.4 out of 10, easyJet 6.6 and Norwegian significantly out did Ryanair with a score of 7.22.

Although Ryanair is already a hugely successful company, the white paper points to the benefits of improving customer experience. More than three quarters of those surveyed said the airline experience had been improved by technology over the last five years and most respondents were open to further innovations that could improve the journey. Highlighting some areas where technology can improve airlines’ relationships with their customers, the white paper points to greater consumer control over communications, alerts to ease the journey to and from the airport, social media customer service and booking, in-flight technology and personalisation.

Head of Travel at Relay42, Florent Coudyser, says: “It becomes increasingly important for airlines, in this competitive sphere, to make every single interaction count: to be where the customer is, when they need to book a flight, and to respond to their behavior thoughtfully, in a way which makes them choose you over the next big thing, here today and gone tomorrow. This could mean incentivising loyalty through understanding a valued passenger’s next-best destination and delivering them the right offer, at the right time, in the right place; the right place could mean escalating the use of messenger apps to manage a booking more conveniently.”

After all, as Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in May 2015, “if I’d only known that being nice to customers was going to be so good for my business I would have done it years ago.”  

To download the white paper, click here.

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