19 February 2018

Easyjet, Customer Experience, and Customer Retention

I typically don't write about my individual flights, as I have taken quite a few and they don't end up being memorable. However, this one flight I took a few weeks earlier was one such flight. We were flying back home, from Budapest to Berlin, on Easyjet. We were on the last flight of the day, leaving Budapest at 20:35 and arriving in Berlin at 22:05. At least that's the idea.

However, early on during the day, I already received notifications that the flight was delayed. Apparently, there was a technical issue that was discovered, and so the engineers were checking the plane, and because of this, the delays cascaded throughout the day. However, a few hours from departure, the delay went away. They must have sent a substitute plane.

Anyway, when we were dropping off our luggage, the ground staff informed us that there is a chance to spend an extra night in Budapest. They were offering us compensation and hotel accommodation. It was lucrative, and I would have taken it, except I really just wanted to go home this time. So we didn't. Apparently, the substitute plane is a smaller plane: they were supposed to fly in an Airbus A320 with 180 seats but they substituted an Airbus A319 which only had 156 seats. So they were asking for volunteers.

I must say I wasn't in my best mood. I was hungry, and Budapest Airport was practically closed, with most of the restaurants shut down for the holidays. I was lining up in Burger King (the only decent option) when they started closing on us. I was in the queue for more than half an hour when they started turning off the lights. So I found a store selling chicken sandwiches, except the bun was super hard, it injured my gums when I was biting into it. So I just fished the chicken inside and ate it. That was my dinner.

So I just wanted to get home. Except there was a security issue. They needed to figure out that everyone who is in the plane is indeed supposed to be in the plane. And it was hard to do that because there were seat assignments that were changed because of the smaller plane issue. So they had to go through the plane, row by row, and figure out that everyone who is sitting should be there sitting. That took two hours.

For the whole duration of the event, the crew was professional. The captain informed us of what was happening next. It could have been a frustrating issue, since we all just wanted to go home and ring in the New Year on the ground. Instead, we were delayed for two hours, with a expected arrival of 5 minutes past midnight. So passengers who were seated on the right side of the plane (that was us) saw the spectacular fireworks happening all over Berlin as we were landing.

The amazing thing is how professionally and diplomatically the whole situation was handled. It could easily have escalated, even I was getting mad. But the captain was well-trained in customer retention management, perhaps, and it definitely made for a good customer experience. I think about Net Promoter Scores on a daily basis due to my job, and this is one time I would say that the way things were handled definitely improved this score. Sure, we were delayed, but I would definitely fly with Easyjet again if need be.

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