Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Customer Satisfaction: from aviation to politics

Few would dispute that long haul flights nowadays are an experience to be endured rather than enjoyed. Especially when combined with the international departures ordeal where passengers can be forgiven for feeling that they are despised, envied and looked upon as a tiresome nuisance impeding the efficient running of the airport. So when an airline gives the impression that it will always go that extra mile to make the experience less dreadful, by offering service such as premium economy seating, twilight check in and comfortable lounges – combined throughout with a welcoming and friendly approach towards its customers at all times – it’s hardly surprising that it will win no end of repeat business and recommendations.

That’s you I’m talking about, Virgin Atlantic. Recent Gatwick-Cancun experience well up to your tried and tested standards both ways, and a certain inevitability about our next choice of airline next time around. Keep it up.

One nagging irritation, no fault of the airline of course, was the holiday tax, otherwise known as Air Passenger Duty. Has there ever been a more iniquitous and counterproductive tax, one which makes long haul flights provided by foreign carriers at nearby continental airports all the more attractive to travellers not tied to the UK? Which damages not only the UK aviation and tourist industry, but also Third World economies by imposing higher costs on flights to Caribbean islands? How regrettable that a party in government (albeit in coalition) holding itself out as a supposed champion of lower and more sensible taxation should have only tinkered with this poisonous Blair-Brown legacy rather than abolished it altogether.

Perhaps it’s just one element of a wider disdain for customer satisfaction in the political arena that Douglas Carswell MP admirably describes here. Antagonise your customers, take them for granted and stop selling them what they want to buy, and they’ll take their business elsewhere. Not a million miles from the main theme of Infernal Coalition, but that’s another story…   

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