This week dominating our Media here in Australia is Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s apology. Not only does he apologise for delays, cancellations, and lost bags but the company, which has suffered severe reputational blows in the past year, offered a series of benefits for members of its Frequent Flyers Loyalty Program as a way of making amends.
What did Alan Joyce say?
“It’s been really great to see you back in our terminals in our lounges, and on our aircraft two years on the ground was tough on everyone. We know the return to fly and hasn’t all gone smoothly. Over the past few months, too many of you have had flights delayed flights canceled or bags misplaced. There are good reasons whybut when it comes to what you expect from Qantas, it’s not good enough. On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologise and assure you that we’re working hard to get back to our best. Throughout this time, our customers have been very understanding. So, as well as saying sorry, we also want to say thank you. You’ll receive an email from us shortly with more details. We know that what matters most though, is that your next journey is a smooth one. And that’s why we’re focused on getting Qantas back to its best. We look forward to seeing you on board again soon”.
Source ABC News
I’ve highlighted the key points – let’s break it down using the Be X Do = Have formula.
BE X DO = HAVE
“It’s who you are being first plus what you do equals what you have or get. The secret is BEING sorry not DOING sorry!
When it comes to BE X DO = HAVE if you are being apologetic the secret being – then they feel it.
It’s not about any blame, it’s not about the mistake it’s not about an opinion; it is apologising for how you have made them feel.
I thought Alan did a good job with this, but it could have been better, more standing in the shoes of the customer.
This is a brilliant example of a heartfelt apology by a Qantas pilot,
Recently, my flight was delayed whilst we were sitting on the tarmac. The pilot comes over the loudspeaker and says – “Good afternoon, ladies, and gentlemen, I’ve got some bad news. I’m really sorry to tell you that we are going to be delayed here on the tarmac for one hour. I know that’s going to have a massive impact on you all, especially those of you with connecting flights. I apologise, knowing this is going to be a really significant frustration, you all want to get your destination as soon as you can. We’re going to do everything we can to leave as soon as possible.
Initially, the sighs and Oh’s and Arrghs were extremely loud and filled the cabin, people voicing their frustration, however the more he shared and the more he acknowledged the difficulties hispassengers may be facing at the other end of this flight the cabin quietened down. People stopped and listened.Not once did he mention why we were delayed, there was no justification just a heartfelt apology.
We don’t always need to know the reasons why, what’s more important is the feeling of being understood.
The cabin crew then walked up and down the plane, speaking to each person and taking care of them as best as they could under the circumstances. They got in the world of their customers in that moment and made a huge difference.
One of the things I enjoy seeing is staff members who are given the freedom to inject their personality into their work rather than go through the motions. It makes a world of difference and creates those moments for the customer to have a 10 out of 10 experience.
Businesses can provide exceptional customer experiences when they put themselves in the world of the customer.
“Being in the world of your customer is like really putting yourself in their shoes and feeling what it would be like for someone who has to constantly communicate specific requirements and to be made to feel like, they are being the difficult one or the bad guy.
To note, I feel for the Qantas staff I am sure they are also feeling extremely frustrated and disappointed and somewhat embarrassed when dealing with the level of complaints they are receiving each and every day. I sincerely hope that Qantas has also taken into consideration the position and conditions that their staff now find themselves working within.
Alan could have acknowledged a little more how frustrating it is to have your bags not arrive or your flight cancelled.
My daughter recently flew to NZ and her flight was delayed for a day, the impact of this was she missed seeing her Auntie who is being treated in hospital for cancer, she was extremely upset and the service she got was appalling. Little or no apology.
Qantas also has offered a number of actions to apologise to customers.
In the case of ‘DO’ – What benefits are they offering?
Frequent Flyer program members receive $50 discounts and extra perks
- A $50 flight discount offer: All Australian and New Zealand-based members will be emailed a promo code to knock $50 off a Qantas flight.
- Status extensions: Members with silver status and above will be on that tier for an extra 12 months.
- Qantas lounge invitations: Members with Qantas Lounge privileges will get an extra invitation to the Lounge to use for themselves or a “Frequent Flyer friend, colleague or family member”. That means an invitation to the Qantas Domestic Business Lounge for gold members and an invitation to the Qantas Club or an international business Lounge for silver members.
- Qantas points: This is for Platinum and Platinum One members. Qantas hasn’t said how many points they’ll give, however.
- Classic Rewards availability extension: Qantas is extending its pledge for 50 per cent more Classic Rewards seats on international, trans-Tasman and popular domestic routes until June 30 next year. These will be released gradually from midday today.
This is fantastic news for someone like me – I get to keep my Platinum One status for another year. To be honest, I thought this is my last year, as I have not been and do not intend to travel as much as I did in the past, not to mention all the perks that come with it – the lounge, upgrades, choice of seats etc. However, for others depending on the timing of their status roll over some may not experience the same level of value as I will.
What Alan Joyce really said in simple terms is – there’s lots of reasons but we apologise, it’s not the level of service we are committed to providing, and this is what we’re doing for our loyal customers.
It’s a good start – would you agree? But what next, how will it play out?
Which brings us to Have.
Already online community groups are sharing their thoughts and after receiving their offer, noticing that some have benefitted more than others. Here’s a snippet of just one conversation on executive traveller https://www.executivetraveller.com/community/view/10173/qantas-apology-offer the debate begins.
Post – Just got my offer email for 30,000 points (Platinum). Anyone know how it is calculated or is everyone the same?
Reply One – I am Plat and only got 15k, so I am sure there is an internal algorithm that calculates who gets what.
Reply Two – I am also Platinum and flown enough to retain my Platinum next year. I also got 30k – maybe frequency of flying has something to do with it?
Reply Three – QF has an internal customer value score/algorithm that is more complex than frequent flyer status. (I remember reading about this on this website.) It’s based on the quantity and quality of spend. This means a Gold who regularly flies on QF economy Flex fares could have a much higher value score than a Platinum who earns a status mostly through partner airlines business class. I’d be surprised if this system wasn’t used in some way to determine who gets what offer.
Others are debating the value of the $50 voucher, when in fact the cost of membership is $55.00.
It’s interesting to note that this is the main aspect of the benefit package the Australian media ramped up, yet not all that exciting for frequent flyers, they seem to have missed the status extensions as the number one selling point.
I personally appreciate the gesture of both the Qantas Points and the Classic Rewards availability extension I think it is a nice touch.
What systems have they put in place that will make the biggest difference?
What most people want to know is can you trust Qantas again.
So, although Qantas have invested financially in damage control and making this public announcement, I’m wondering what percentage of their commitment has been allocated to ensuring this strategic plan plays out and actually makes the difference.
If your promising to do something, you have got to do it, and do it really well.
Qantas has declared the following:
Qantas said it had hired 1,500 new people since April, with a statement from the company saying there was “more to come”.
Mr Joyce said the company had been adjusting flight schedules to have more crew in reserve as back-up for staff having to take sick leave.
The company also said it had invested $15 million in “new technology at key airports to help smooth the travel experience”.
Qantas has extended its minimum time for outbound international connections from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, as another strategy to reduce mishandled and missing baggage for customers.
I do appreciate they are looking at their systems and looking at a system changes that are relevant to the circumstances. But let’s get to the nitty-gritty!
Developing service standards within your business whether face to face, email or via an online platform messaging is critical to ensure customer loyalty and repeat business.
It is important to consider how people feel when you engage them in every part of their journey with you; it starts with a positive first impression; listening and acknowledging how they feel.
Listen, don’t interrupt and respond by paraphrasing their feelings first. E.g., I can see how frustrated you are, you just want to get your bags and we have delayed that happening.
I would imagine they are not going to fundamentally change tomorrow. So, it’s managing people’s expectations.
I’m about to fly a lot over the next few weeks, 6 cities, it will be interesting to see what happens. I’ll be on Virgin as well. Personally, I’m a loyal Qantas customer, however if Virgin approached me and offered to match my status it might start me thinking. But overall, I understand things have been challenging, ultimately, I just want to see Qantas re-establish their reputation and trust in the brand.
I would love to hear your thoughts, contact me I look forward to hearing from you.