I was coming back from my holiday in Nice to London Gatwick last week and had to take the only airline with room left at this time of year: Easyjet.
The reason I am mentioning this trip on the blog is because Easyjet made a series of unforgivable marketing mistakes, ensuring that I would never use their services again but also giving me great inspiration for this article. I want to use this article to share with you the mistakes that were made and why you have to make sure never to make the same mistakes if you want to keep your customers.
There is only so much a customer / client / patient can take before they fully stop using your services. It wasn’t the first time that Easyjet had let me down, but it will be the last. And the reason for that isn’t that they ran into some problems that highly impacted how my day went, that happens to every company, it is because of the appalling way in which their customer services handled the situation. I want to share with you the marketing mistakes that they made so that you can avoid making them yourself.
Every business has its share of issues, problems, challenges that sometimes stop them from functioning properly. But in the face of a crisis, a strong and efficient customer service ‘and in-case-of [fill blank]’ marketing plan can turn a bitter experience into a “they did the best that they could and I was very impressed with the way they treated me and the situation”. That’s the very thin line between shutting the door forever or keeping it slightly open, hoping that the next experience will make up for it.
Now, back to Easyjet. They are famous for their lateness so I was expecting a good hour’s delay. We were meant to land in Gatwick at 1.10pm. We had initially arrived above Gatwick on time but then the plane started circling around for about an hour or so.
Eventually, the captain announced that we were being rerouted towards Stansted because there had been an issue at Gatwick causing the airport to close down the runway.
So far, I’m not too annoyed. It happens and there’s not much Easyjet can do about it. They had to land somewhere! What comes next though, is what led me to make my final decision.
The plane taxied and stopped next to the staircase. The doors opened… but for the next two hours, nothing else happened. There was no communication whatsoever between the captain and us. He once told us we were waiting for security to come out and guide us down the stairs and 30 mins later told us we were going to taxi back out and fly back to Gatwick. During two hours, we had no idea what was going on.
Finally after two hours, the captain asked us to get off the plane and claimed that there were buses waiting outside to take whoever had a connexion, back to Gatwick. So we got off, passed security and went to fetch our luggage.
But as we arrived inside the airport, we noticed that there were no members of staff there to tell us where the suitcases were or where the buses were. Easyjet just left us alone to figure out what was going on.
The screens didn’t indicate which belt the suitcases were expected to come out of and the Easyjet Office only had one member of staff barely bothered about trying to figure out what was going on and being frankly extremely unhelpful with the situation, handing out pieces of paper with a customer hotline number.
At 5.30pm on the dot, when we had already been waiting for 1.5 hours, the member of staff from the Easyjet Desk simply left to go home and closed down the desk. It took another 1.5 hours to find our luggage, time during which I heard all sorts of explanations including “airport staff isn’t paid by Easyjet to get the luggage out so they’re not doing it”, “The plane went back to Gatwick with our luggage in it” and “The baggage hold door is broken so they can’t access the luggage”… all of which go to show the complete lack of communication on EasyJet’s part.
Finally, there was no compensation whatsoever, whether in the form of reimbursement, special offer for the next flight or vouchers of any kind because “the plane didn’t land more than 3 hours late”… well, sure, but hum… I mean… It didn’t even land in the right Airport! And if we add the countless hours of waiting around for luggage to come out, by the time we get back to our actual initial landing airport, Gatwick, the 3 hour mark has literally exploded…
Where am I getting at? Well…
As businesses, we are all at danger of making these simple yet lethal mistakes. So, what are the lessons that we should learn from this experience? We should learn that money saving has its limits, and Marketing is one of them. Not investing properly in a good marketing strategy can be very dangerous for a company and here is why:
1/ Communication is KEY – Had the teams on land communicated properly with the captain and had the captain told us the truth, we would have got very annoyed but at least we would have known what to expect. The man sitting behind me was expecting to take an MRI scan on the very same day that we landed and in view of a heavy operation the next day. Until the last minute he was hoping he’d make it until he had no choice but to face the fact that it was’t going to happen. And that’s all because the captain kept changing his story every 30 mins. Passengers’ expectations were managed very poorly, if even at all.
As a business, you must ALWAYS communicate the closest version to the TRUTH to your clients in order to start managing their expectations. If you know a deadline is too tight, SAY IT. If you know it will be hard to repair their device and that it would be cheaper to buy a new one, SAY IT. If you think that dress makes them look 10 pounds heavier, SAY IT!
2/ Availability SAVES – By that I mean it saves your image. Once we got out of the plane, there was nobody to help us. A good company would send their staff running around trying to find a solution. One of my co-passengers told me about an experience they had with Emirates: the suitcase had been forgotten in Dubai while the passenger was on a plane to London. During the flight, a hostess came to tell them about it and offered for the suitcase to be delivered to the passengers door step on that very same day. A courrier was sent to deliver the forgotten suitcase by 11.30pm on that same day. Easyjet should have ensured that some members of staff would be there to try and communicate with the airport staff and report the situation to the passengers, or better yet, offer alternative solutions to the problem in order to avoid a three hour long wait for their suitcases.
As a business, you must ALWAYS be available for your clients. Whether it’s in the form of yourself, your staff, your PA or even a receptionist. But if there is an emergency, you must be able to have someone tailor to the problem until it is fully fixed. Any member of staff will suffice, as long as the communication channels are good and that they can as quickly as possible redirect the client to the appropriate person. People need to know that they are being taken care of and not left to deal with a situation by themselves.
3/ Compensation KEEPS – By that I mean, keeps some form of relationship going. The fact that Easyjet did nothing to compensate was the last nudge I needed to promise to myself that I would never use their airline again. And there will be no going back. Because even if I do end up getting my money back, it’ll be the results of hours of fighting and back and forth e-mailing trying to get them to pay for their mistake. I will be disgusted for life and it’ll be too late to get me back.
As businesses, we all make mistakes and we all fail to deliver sometimes. But the important thing to keep in mind for an overall successful relationship with our customers is to compensate for our mistakes. Whether it is in the form of a voucher, a special offer or a freebee to name a few, if we want to admit our shortcomings and try to save the relationship, we must prove our goodwill with a gift. It shows respect for our customers, a real initiative to try and make up for our mistake and keeps them around just long enough to try to work our way back into their heart.
As mentioned earlier, during a crisis a good implementation of the above three points will determine whether you find yourself behind a fully closed door or if there is still room to fit your foot. Make sure that your crisis-management marketing is impeccable.
In total, I wasted 6 hours of my day between the rerouting, waiting to get out, waiting for my luggage, and traveling all the way back across town to get back home.
What I will keep from this appalling situation is this: should I need to use low cost again in the future, I will gladly use the Jet2 airline because they had a member of staff there, who even though she wasn’t related to Easyjet in any way, tried her very best to get someone from the airport to talk to us and sort the problem out.
So to all businesses out there, don’t do like Easyjet: don’t risk losing valuable customers over a Marketing shortcoming.
Have you had similar experiences? If you found this article useful for your own business insights or simply for the trivia, please share and like!