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Customer service the Ryanair way

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Increased customer satisfaction equals more profits. Even ‘cheap’ companies like budget airline Ryanair, notorious for its ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, are beginning to see the light. News reports stated that CEO Michael O’Leary prepares for change after Ryanair was voted to provide the worst customer service in the UK last week. "We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off," O’Leary said. He is quoted as saying that Ryanair plans to give its website an overhaul, adopt a more relaxed attitude to enforcing rules about extra charges and… set up a new email response team. It’s a surprising turnaround for a man who has made it very clear that he doesn’t care much about customer satisfaction. O’Leary allegedly once said: “Are we going to say sorry for our lack of customer service? Absolutely not.” But under pressure from shareholders, he seems to begin to understand that responsiveness and a friendly attitude work wonders for a brand’s image. (And it presumably hasn’t escaped his notice that having a good business image can help you to make more money in the long run.)

Customer service to boost a brand’s image

O’Leary’s sudden change in focus from profits to pleasantries is a great example to those with less business experience. If even a notoriously customer-hating CEO like O’Leary can eventually come to realise that customer service doesn’t cost much, that sends a big sign to the rest of us.

Love your loyal customers

Presumably, it hasn’t escaped O’Leary’s notice that rock-bottom prices and flashy promotions are great ways to lure new customers, but not frequent Ryanair travellers. And loyal customers are far more valuable to a business than new ones: Bain & Company famously wrote that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. So what’s the easiest way to make sure that your existing customers keep coming back? Providing them with outstanding service. Respond to their email queries, acknowledge their tweets, deal with their Facebook comments promptly. All of this will decrease negative word-of-mouth about your company. O’Leary for president! Only if he keeps his promises. Because that's, of course, where the road to good customer service begins.