Recognising that teamwork, communication and a little customer care can go a very long way, British Airways is launching a new initiative aimed at building customer loyalty and expanding the role of its pilots.
‘Beyond the Flight Deck’ will increase the frequency and quality of interaction between pilots and customers, primarily through face-to-face interaction at the door.
“We know that special moments create strong emotional bonds and we want our passengers to have a personalised customer experience. Beyond The Flight Deck is a key part of this loyalty strategy,” says Captain Charlie Maunder, head of fleets.
Passengers already have the chance to see their questions answered by a pilot in BA’s Highlife inflight magazine, but Beyond the Flight Deck could also expand this interaction to include mobile apps, most likely for customer feedback and as a means of delivering information.
A team comprising BA, BALPA and OR Consulting has designed both the courses and the content that they will deliver to passengers. Everything has been based on customer feedback.
Training, through a two-day personal development programme, focuses on leadership, and the development of effective customer service and communication skills. It also works towards a “one onboard team” concept, something that has presented the airline with challenges in the past.
Captain Maunder is keen to emphasise: “We’re training our pilots to be cutting edge on both sides of the flight deck door.”
A decision is still to be made on whether Beyond the Flight Deck is something to be actively promoted or if it is something that should simply be allowed to take effect on board. The airline reports that where aspects of the scheme have been trialled, without promotion, positive customer feedback has already been noted, especially in customer recovery situations.
These early reports suggest that BA’s stated aim for Beyond the Flight Deck – to contribute to the overall level of customer service and deliver greater customer loyalty – is on track.
The scheme will ultimately be rolled out fleet-wide and with BA’s 3,300 pilots. While the majority of the pilot workforce is keen to become involved, the carrier is careful to remind customers that a pilot’s primary responsibility will always rest in the cockpit.
Beyond the Flight Deck will therefore not be allowed to distract from regular duties, as senior first officer Derek Suckling, from BA’s Beyond the Flight Deck team and BALPA explains, “British Airways pilots have embraced this opportunity to take a leading roll in BA’s revitalised customer proposition. While nothing will distract from the primary operational role we perform, BA pilots are proud to have the opportunity to be part of an overall enhanced customer experience onboard.”