Friday, June 29, 2007

To serve or not to serve

As many of you will have read on today's Travolution website, the Institute of Customer Service has released the first ever UK Customer Satisfaction Index and the results are not too promising.

Overall, it seems UK consumers are not particularly happy with many of the everyday services they receive, be it helathcare, a haircut and, yes you guessed it, travel.

The UK's transport industry was among the worst performing sectors, with customers citing flight delays, lost luggage and just generally poor customer service as among their chief gripes.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic emerged as the best of the worst, while Ryanair had among the lowest scores.

“The outcomes, on the whole, leave a lot to be desired," observed ICS Executive Director Robert Crawford.

And he's right.

Consumer spending represents the biggest proportion of GDP in the UK, so the value of the customer to the overall economy, not to mention to individual companies, is not to be taken lightly.

So why can't we get this right?

Having lived in America for most of my life I must admit that, by comparison, even the lowest frills European airlines are miles ahead of the militia-style customer service of US carriers.

But being the best in the worst class is not really an honour now, is it?

Regardless of where or how we book our holidays, the fact remains that most journeys begin with the flight.

More accurately, the holiday begins when you're at the airport, so it is incumbent upon the airlines to do a better job in everything they do.

Of course this is easier said than done. But if companies like John Lewis--one of the UK's biggest retailers which received the highest customer satisfaction rating--can get it right, then so can airlines like Ryanair.

Tricia Holly Davis, chief writer, Travolution

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