Recently we had gone on a family vacation to Thailand (Thailand – food, shopping and massage!) and the internal flight was taken on Air Asia, which, is a low cost airline now coming into India in a very big way. The Bangkok-Phuket flight went off fine. While returning, the flight from Phuket to Bangkok was supposed to take off at 4.30 pm. giving us enough time in Bangkok airport to catch the 8.30pm. flight back to India. This was a weekend and in typical Indian Airlines style, the flight got delayed. Given the language barrier, it was even much more difficult to communicate. I personally think that the flight would have been cancelled simply because the number of passengers were less. While coming back from Bangkok to Phuket the flight were full whereas from Phuket to Bangkok even after combining 2 flights, there were rows and rows of empty seats.
What struck me was that no one shouted or created chaos in the airport. In India, every time a flight gets cancelled, hundreds of people just surround the ticket counter and start venting their anger straining their vocal chords. Nothing of the sort happened here. People were generally sitting around still in their holiday mood.
The person handling the crisis from Air Asia was a very relaxed person. He began by saying that the plane has got a technical fault. Are you not scared to travel in such a flight? That promptly silenced most of the people and our crisis manager took a moral high ground saying that the company was doing it for our benefit. Next, he armed himself with data on the passengers staying in Bangkok versus the rest who had connecting flights and prepared a complete list of all the connecting flights.
We had one more person for company who was scheduled to take the 9.00 p.m. flight to Singapore from Bangkok. Our flight took off at almost 6.30pm and we landed in Bangkok at around 7.45 p.m. To our surprise, we had a team from Air Asia waiting for us on the tarmac. They unloaded the luggage of all passengers with connecting flights ushered us into a car and a representative from Air Asia escorted us. For those who haven’t been to Bangkok airport, it is extremely big and you could get lost searching for counters. We too would have run helter-skelter for the return flights; the check-in counter is not Indian Airlines or Air India but Thai Airways because they have a code-sharing arrangement.
The Air Asia representative took us to the right counter. Our boarding pass was kept ready, all help was offered to ensure that our luggage was checked in properly. We were comfortably passed beyond the immigration checks and only after we boarded the plane did our Man Friday from Air Asia show some signs of being relaxed again.
Most people would have thought that the moment a boarding pass is handed to the passenger work is done. Even if you get a boarding pass your luggage may not come with you or you could arrive late at the boarding gate and be told - Sorry. Our Air Asia saviour did not relax even once we got the boarding pass or luggage was done. He could have walked out any time leaving us to our mercy but what is admirable is he believed completely in getting things done. This is an extremely good example of handling the customers because more than often one loses interest after getting things done 70% or 80%.
The difference lies in getting the task completed 100% and not to let go of it mid-way. This is what differentiates successes and failures. Service is of paramount importance Every interaction a service person makes with the customer can add or delete the company brand from the customer’s mind. Sam Walton rightly put it - There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody, by spending his money somewhere else.
The extra-ordinary ability and attitude of the Air Asia representative has completely changed my view about Air Asia and I am sure we will definitely travel again by Air Asia.