BRAND WARNING: CUSTOMERS EXPECTATIONS ARE REVERTING TO NORMAL
Many companies saw both internal and external NPS improve during lock-down. Internally employees appreciated working from home, the security offered by their employers and the safety net supplied by the government. On the external front many of our clients, who have had to deliver a far worse service than normal, have been receiving higher than normal NPS scores – simply put customers have been appreciative of companies that have continued to operate in difficult times, even if it has been in an inconvenient form.
But the winds are changing – as we exit lock-down consumers are reverting to old expectations and companies will have to make sure that they do not hide behind Covid-19 as an excuse.
One example of this is the airline industry.
At the beginning of Covid-19 British Airways had to cancel flights for which it issued vouchers. In the main customers understood, that while not ideal, these were exceptional times and there was sympathy with the impact lock-down was having on the airline and travel industry. In general consumers accepted vouchers imagining that they would fly again and they accepted British Airways could hold the funds for them to draw down from in the future.
Now air travel is opening again customers are looking to use these vouchers - only to find that British Airways have put barriers in place. Customers cannot use the Covid-19 vouchers online (despite their being a box for them to put a voucher code in) but must call and speak to an operator to book their flight. When they call the line, they get a message telling them that because of Covid British Airways do not have enough staff to answer all the calls and the line goes dead. It’s worth remembering that Asda, Wickes, Tesco and B&Q managed to get people to hold for up to 8 hours to access their stores online during lock down. The only conclusion that a customer can jump to is that British Airways are making it deliberately hard for them to use their vouchers. The result is that customers will move from feeling supportive of a brand going through tough times to feeling ripped off and abused by a brand that is receiving large government bail outs.
Contrast this with Jet2 who issue cash refunds within 10 days - with no quibbles and no hoops to jump.
This is the time to capitalise on brand warmth by showing you appreciate your customers patience not to burn your bridges.