Are all customers created equal?
The months is about a trip to New York last month. The below is about some personal experiences and opinions regarding customer service in the main.
Myself, my wife and our friends decided to book a little mini-break to New York last weekend for a much needed break and a chance to tick something off our bucket list.
When pricing up the trip we found that due to the number of Avios points that we had we could book into the First Class with British Airways for a very reasonable price (£600 return each). To cut a long story short, due to a cancelled ticket and BA being unable to allow a seat name change, my friend and his wife and my wife were booked into First Class with myself booked into Economy on the flight out.
I can’t say that it wasn’t a bit of a bummer being in Economy when the rest of the people on our trip where in the First Class but in truth there was some real benefits for myself. One of the deals with BA is that if you are First Class you are allowed a guest within the airport lounges and the first class seats of the plane also. This meant that even though I had paid economy prices I was allowed to take advantage of the majority of the benefits of being a First Class passenger.
The First Class Lounge in both Manchester and the Concorde Lounge in Heathrow, London were deserving of their name as they were literally first class. The food, the service and the drinks available were some of the best that I have had anywhere. This world is not always open and available to the me, so I made sure that I made the most of it. I even got some work done in the process.
As I was able to board with the First Class travellers when it came to the flight going over to New York I got to see the world from two very different perspectives in such a short period of time. The First Class passengers were greeted with smiles, drinks and a question of “if there anything that we can help with”. Conversations about where we had come from, where we were going and advice of what to do when in the city of New York happened within the first 10 minutes of boarding…then I had to go to my seat in the Economy section.
Now lets put this in perspective, every other flight that I have been on in my life (around 250 flights total I’d say) has been in Economy so this is the world that I am used to. However, what I found when moving from the world of First Class to Economy really surprised me. I was met with the stewardess shouting at a kid for standing on the chairs, snarls of “take your seat” and barks of “put your tray up”. A polar opposite of what I had just experienced.
This led me to the question of whether all customers are created equal and whether customer service should be tailored to the class of the customer and the amount of money that they have paid??
Before I carry on let me try and put some context behind of what we are discussing here…
Customer Service is, in my opinion at least, the way in which a customer is treated as part of any transaction be that buying a burger, renting a suit, ordering a pint, eating at a restaurant, staying at a hotel or boarding a flight. Customer Service is judged not on the item that is purchased but by the feel of the transaction, the way in which the customer feels, the helpfulness and knowledge of the staff and the overall experience itself.
To answer the above question, we also need to consider the different ‘classes’ of customer. Should a customer buying a Ford Focus expect the same Customer Service as someone buying a Ferrari? Should someone eating at MacDonald’s expect the same service at a gourmet restaurant? And, should someone flying economy expect the same service as someone flying first class?
Although I understand that the quality of a Ferrari cannot be equalled by a Focus, a Mc Donald’s does not compare to a fine dining experience or the quality of the seats, food, amenities in Economy compare to the overall quality of all that you receive as a First Class passenger. That being said Customer Service is absolute — a welcome smile and generally being nice isn’t too difficult is it? Although the quality of the product is related to the overall experience of the transaction it is not the be all and end all.
As a result the fact that BA deem it acceptable to treat their Economy customers very differently than their First Class customers is pretty disgusting. This is not right in any sense and is not in the spirit of customer service. The fact that the level of customer service can be bought is a joke.
Rather than the fact that I won’t be flying BA anytime soon how does this fit into what I am trying to do with Get Into Nuclear?
"all customers are created equal"
Get into Nuclear is branching out from the getintonuclear.com site to recruitment, publishing, media management and event management therefore we need to generate a customer service mantra for the company going forward with “all customers are created equal” most definitely going to the backbone of this.
We have got exciting times ahead and are currently in the middle of linking our offerings with a couple of great companies to offer a full services package covering branding, creative digital marketing, social content, digital marketing, marketing, recruitment, training and events management.
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Post article update: on the way back from New York due to an empty flight I was fortunate to be upgraded to Premium Economy and cannot fault the customer service received on this flight.