Posted tagged ‘cusotmer care’

From landing late to great customer service – El Al turnaround

November 28, 2012

In an era of global economic slowdown and when airlines are known to be suffering, it worth noting that El Al, Israel’s main airline, has posted profits soaring by tens of percentage points. Increased passenger revenue and the control of costs have combined to produce a 79% leap in profits before tax.

This was not always the case. For years the El Al anacronym was known as “every landing always late”. Passenger service was not just bad, but you had to think twice before asking a stewardess for assistance. Pricing was inconsistent. Losses and strikes were standard.

So what has changed? Obviously, one major effect was the privatisation process that kicked off nearly a decade ago. In addition, as the Israeli economy has become a success story and tourism has taken off, more airlines are turning up to compete for the rising passenger traffic. For example, Easy Jet has a couple of crowded flights every day to Tel Aviv.

However, there is something more to it than this. Last month, I flew El Al. Now let me be clear. I do not feel duty bound to fly by this carrier and I checked out several other possibilities beforehand. I boarded in Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, itself a recent winner of the Airport Council’s International roll of excellence award.

I could see the stewardess prepare her mandatory strut up the aisle to see that everyone was buckled in. “Here we go again” was the thought that entered my head. But no. She went from side to side chatting with people. How are you? Why are you flying? Looking forward to your holiday? She spread an atmosphere of relaxation at the potentially critical moment of tension. And yes, on the quiet, she was clearly and professionally ensuring that all seatbelts were in place. I hate flying, but on this rare occasion, my trip started with a smile.

Travel and Leisure is one of the premier observers of the global travel business. Its new rankings place El Al at 18th out of 76 airlines surveyed. Not only is this a quantum improvement from 31st position last year. Most of those ahead of El Al on the list specialise in long haulage flights, a field where the Israeli company has comparatively little chance to show off its capabilities.

El Al has become an interesting case study for turning round a company based on serving the customer. As the review of T&L states:

Better cabin comfort and greatly improved service in the air and on the ground were key factors. Readers gave EL AL’s food winning marks this time out and think the airline now offers better value. In an innovative twist, the EL AL Upgrade program enables you to submit a bid to upgrade your flight from economy class to business class.