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Low cost, or, customer service?

Posted March 6th, 2009

So, Ryanair seem to have upset a lot of people again with their plans to charge people £1 to use the toilet on one of their flights. It begs the question, what is more important, low cost or customer service?

Ryanair would no doubt argue that the fact they charge people for heavier luggage, eating and now possibly going to the toilet, means that they can keep their low cost flights at the smallest costs possible and if people really want more than to be flown to their destination, they will have to pay for it. In a lot of ways, this is reasonable, after all you know what you are getting when you sign up and if you expect first class service, then you’ll have to pay for it (with another airline).

I heard a story of a Ryanair staff member who was rude to a customer and upon complaint was told that if you wanted great service, which I guess included being treated politely, you should pay for it. The trouble as I see it is that people want both. They want to pay a cheap price for things, but when they don’t get exceptional service as well (this includes the ‘extras’ mentioned above), they are not happy. Is this reasonable? Well, to a certain degree it has to be. After all, without customers, no company will succeed and they can always vote with their feet.

What you cannot deny though, is that Ryanair is a very successful airline. So, are they right or wrong in their approach? Well, to be honest I’m undecided. I could argue that people who book Ryanair know what they are going to get, but then in the same breath, I put my customer care hat on and say that all companies should work towards providing exceptional customer service.

Whatever my thoughts are, the ultimate truth is that the success of the company will provide the answer. Because, I suspect, people will still book flights with Ryanair and continue to complain about them…after all, we all enjoy a moan don’t we?

I think the following image provides a perfect example of this…

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