How popular is British Airways when it comes to bad customer service. Well!! They always seem to sneak in whenever bad service is talked about.
Recently easyJet was been dragged into a wrangle with their ground handling agents Servisair. The passenger handling company alleged how easyJet force their check-in staff to act more like policemen than customer service staff to meet the low-cost airline’s strict baggage rules. Continue reading “British Airways gets its share of reputation bashing via the easyJet Servisair tussle!”
The long standing tussle between British Airways’ and the trade union Unite’s seems to be a never ending affair with no sign of breakthrough. BA’s Chief Executive, Willie Walsh, is been criticized for his tough stance on cabin crew travel issue and for his relentless refusal to allow peace a chance. Though he claims the strike action by cabin crew is “a failure”. On the other hand Unite Union Chief, is reported to have flown out of UK with his family for vacation at this hour of crisis. So all this drama gives this general feeling of a unholy nexus between the BA and Unite chief.
Traveling by BA is skeptical and may effect your itinerary or even expect a particular flight is canceled. Passengers are even cautioned to counter-check refund and re-booking options and also advised to look at other flights.
As this drama continues the brand BA has taken a huge beating besides losing customer’s faith. Though they announced about having proper back-ups in place and will operate additional flights to keep up with the demand, but, will this help BA as a company that is concerned about its employee and customers.
The U K’s flagship carrier, once the pride of UK had set a standard for quality, style and service. They even claimed to be “The World’s Favorite Airline”. Let’s face it; BA is undergoing a crisis management so they should now concentrate on how to bring back that old faith the quality, integrity and operation.
Reputation Management For.com finds Google search queries suggest “BA Strike” as first. Better late than never they will need to do some brainstorming to get out-off troubled waters to salvage their reputation both online and offline, after all every second passenger hits the Internet to see whats cooking
A possible strike is in waiting for British Airways as the second ballot results of its 13,000 cabin crew members is to be announced shortly. After the first strike called by the cabin crew members was luckily overruled by the High Court due to the busy Christmas season, seems this time a sure strike is in the offing from March 1.
With the BA cabin crew strike still looming on the UK travelers, things even got worse when the pilots union of Lufthansa started a strike today over worries of pay and job security. BA which lost over £400m is planning for a layoff for its present staff and a salary freeze this year in order to save £140m a year. It’s crunch time for BA with nothing less than an acid test ahead.
Things can’t get any worse for BA with the ongoing unrest among the cabin crew and the airline, at the same time comes the threatened walkout, seems like nothing is going well for BA. All this unrest is also damaging the reputation of the airline. Well, the extent of damage on BA is widely seen with the internal bickering proving out to be a PR disaster for the airline specially when BA is really struggling to survive. This is not the first time this inner conflicts is proving fatal for the airlines online reputation, in the past also few disgruntled employees of London Heathrow airport Terminal 5 aired their anger on Facebook,with rude comments about passengers.
Being a top airline company BA seems failing to make both the ends meet, the airline should give a thought on repairing its reputation and getting back the lost faith of its customers by putting into act the effective tools of reputation management. As the adage goes, A stitch in time saves nine!
The real question is how many people won’t be booking a flight with BA over the summer period with fear of the staff threatening about going on strike again. The staff have 2 choices, either get over it and realise in order for a business to survive then they need to streamline or watch BA come to a disastrous end. BA is a global company and needs to be able to compete on a global scale, it can’t if there is a lot of wastage, might be unfair but unfortunately a fact of life for open global market.
Related BA Posts
The media are reporting that British Airways cabin crew are stepping up their industrial action through a campaign of passive resistance: they are pouring unfinished bottles of vintage wine down the sink!
It’s always the details that matter in a story. With Bill Clinton it was the cigar, now it is the fact that it is vintage wine. The actions are supposed to push the company back into negotiation, what they actually do is make the cabin crew look petty and childish. The company is losing money, their pension is underfunded and they have lost the public’s sympathy, but they persist in behaving in a manner that makes them look petulant.
The cabin crew need to regain the initiative if they are win or benefit from the coming negotiations. That means they need to polish their reputations by providing outstanding service and demonstrate to passengers that whatever illwill they feel for their employer, they continue to serve customers with passion.
If they are not careful, they might follow the wine down the plughole as well.
What’s else can motivate you to stay at home this Christmas? With the fall of Flyglobespan, BA managing to stop a strike, Eurostar trains not working and the roads, well quite frankly a nightmare. Why bother having all this stress and just enjoy what I hope is a White Christmas back in the UK.
It was crazy how Eurostar dealt with the crises of people being stuck on the train for 7 hours. The first thing that sprung into my mind is what would happened if that was a fire? Would you be stuck on the train in the middle of the tunnel for 7 hours with smoke building up. I hope not.
What I don’t understand is why so many companies get it wrong when it comes to keeping its customers up to date. I hear time and time again that people are left standing in stations, airpots, etc and don’t have a clue what’s going on. This can be just about the most damaging thing for a companies reputation, management should have responded to their customers immediately, even just to say, sorry we’re on it just not sure what the problem is. If a negative situation happens, sometimes this can turn a potential nightmare into a dream situation if its dealt with correctly.
This is just another blow to tourism in general, with the recession, new flight taxes, companies failing and strikes imminent, you can understand why staycations have become so popular. Unfortunately for Eurostar 1000’s of people are going to remember how they ruined their Christmas. What should Eurostar do now to fix their reputation and win back customers?
One friend is hoping that the BA does go ahead. He has planned a family holiday in the USA and is scheduled to return to the UK in time for a major visit from the in-laws. He has booked himself on British Airways in the hope that they strike and he can stay away throughout the in-laws visit. Every dark cloud has a silver lining, as they say.
At first it seemed like a straight forward industrial action. Now newspapers are suggesting that a power struggle with Unite union is a key ingredient along with a seeming total breakdown in relations between cabin staff and British Airways.
You can sense a massive behind the scenes PR programme from both sides as they attempt to salvage their reputations in the face of total consumer disgust at the strike. For all participants this is a high stakes strategy with a lot of questions.
- Did the BA management think they could bluff thinking that staff would never strike over christmas period.
- Does Unite’s McCluskey think he can prove his credentials and force a climb-down from BA?
- What attitude will investors take? This last question is critical. Many investors will take the view that the management need to break the cabin crews once and for all and the price is worth it if BA can achieve a lower and more flexible cost base.
- What is the long term cost to BA’s reputation? Xmas is the worst time to ruin people’s holidays.
The Stakes for Unite
Unite are trying to suggest that management are incompetent and wanting to run a Ryanair (the world’s most profitable airline, by the way) whilst management are countering with the assertion that crews are massively overpaid for what they do and the value they add.
Watching Twitter it is clear that BA is winning the reputation battle as customers beg staff not to strike. For Unite’s leadership they are charting a course that is perilous in the extreme.
For Unite, the existence of other planned strikes at Heathrow by baggage workers make this period a PR nightmare. There is a strong strong whiff of union activism which for struggling consumers, many of whom are facing job threats, is distinctly out of step with the times.
Stakes for BA
BA are facing a customer melt-down of epic proportions if the strike goes ahead. But equally problematically, investors want to see who is running the airline – management or cabin crews. Walsh feels he must impose changes and most investors agree. If management lose or even blink, expect the shares to go south, fast. Investors see this like the Miners strike in the 1980s. A defining moment in BA’s history.
Stakes for the Government:
This is a lose-lose situation for this government. They cannot support either side without alienating one community and yet platitudes just make them look weak. The sense that UK Inc is broken continues.
The 12-day strike called by Unite union looms large this holiday season putting hundreds of thousands of people and their travel plans in jeopardy. As British Airways fears the backlash, forums are swamped by passengers venting their anger against the insensitive approach of more than 13000 cabin crew who have voted for the strike.
The strike is planned in protest to the proposed pay and job cuts that BA has planned to ease its pension deficit of £3.7 billion which is likely to more than double to £8 billion this year. Unite union’s 13000 cabin crew are expected to join the strike even though they are paid double that of other airlines like Virgin.
In a bid to get the union to call off the strike and save its reputation, British Airways have resorted to legal action. “The airline called on Unite to call off the industrial action by 2pm today. The union has not done so and BA is now seeking an injunction to prevent the strike from going ahead,” the flag carrier’s chief executive Willie Walsh said in a statement last night. The legal action is taken on the grounds that there were irregularities in the strike ballot.
The papers are full of articles citing passenger anger at the strike which is to begin on December 22nd to Jan 2nd 2010. Would you plan your holiday booking with British Airways after this fiasco? Chances are you will not, if this issue does not resolve well.
It would almost be impossible to recover from this bad reputation for BA. The service industry is constantly dogged by bad reviews, bad press, and negative forums and an internal crisis like this will be nothing short of a disaster for BA’s reputation.
Damage limitation is what is being resorted to and BA plans last-ditch talks to solve the issue.
It’s funny how the simplest lack of customers service or badly run service can get round the Internet. There are some people you just want to avoid offering bad service to like Matt Cutts, check out his U.S Airways Frequent Flyers Programme post.
In todays world of instant communication, it does not take long to get word out and if you have a massive following like Matt Cutts or Stephen Fry even quicker!!!
Hopefully U.S Airways will pick up on Matt’s post and respond accordingly. The airlines seem to really suffer when it comes to customer service, British Airways is great at loosing bags, Delta Airways serves pizza and lands at the scruffiest terminal in JFK. I think the airlines need to work harder on their reputation both on and off-line.
Reputation management and customer service run hand in hand, It’s simply because customers are turning their backs to businesses that do not deliver value and good customer service adds value. There’s no way around it. It’s not about being cheap or their would not be business and first class, it’s about looking after your customer.
Here are some Do’s
- If you promise something to a customer make sure you come through, if you can’t take the time and effort to explain why and offer an alternative or full refund.
- Keep customers informed and make it personal
Here are some don’t s
- Avoid not communicating with customers, even if just to say sorry no update
- Don’t give bogus reasons, be honest
- If a refund is due, don’t drag it out, just pay it
By no means is this an exhaustive list of costumer service points, just the ones that really annoy me.