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IHRSA EUROPE UPDATE From negative to positive

How can companies turn around negative customer experiences? Hans Muench offers a personal insight

s I detailed in February’s pages (HCM Feb 12, p20), my wife and I recently spent three weeks in Sri Lanka. For this trip, we tried Qatar Airlines for the fi rst time.


A negative customer experience can happen in any club or company. How it is resolved oſt en dictates: 1) How the customer shares the experience with others (in these social media times, this means exponentially more than the previous metric of sharing a positive experience with three people and a negative experience with 11 people). 2) Whether they will be a repeat customer.

dissatisfied customers... On the return journey, checking in at Colombo airport, I was told that my pre- assigned seat could not be given to me as it was needed for an infant bassinet. All emergency row seats had been taken at that point, so I – at 1.85m tall – was stuck with my knees touching the seat in front of me for the entire four-and-a-half hour fl ight, which was full so no other seat option was available (there was one empty business class seat, which remained empty for the duration of the fl ight). Arriving in Doha to change planes,

we were greeted at the transit point by a rude employee who made a point of letting us know she had power over us.

We were ‘held hostage’ (or so it seemed) in a waiting area for 25 minutes, which would have been longer had I not complained loudly until we received civil treatment. My wife and I had, at

this point, decided that this would be the last time we would fl y on Qatar Airlines. However, mentioning this to a crew member on the connecting fl ight to Munich, we experienced an unusual and remarkable response. We were given a comment form and were encouraged to share the details in writing, with staff pledging that the incident would be followed up. T en the purser, Ricardo,

arrived and apologised on behalf of the airline. We were impressed that they seemed genuinely concerned and eager to change our negative impression.

In these digital times, customer complaints will be widely heard We will now consider this airline next

... won round It gets even better: shortly aſt er, another staff member introduced himself as a performance offi cer who regularly fl ies on their aircraſt to monitor both staff service levels and customer reactions.


Dear Mr Muench, T ank you for sharing your experience with us when travelling on Qatar Airways from Colombo to Munich via Doha on QR305 and QR003 on 16 January 2012.

We regret to learn of your experience on board your fl ight from Colombo to Doha and are concerned to learn of your disappointment with the in-fl ight service provided to you and your wife by our crew members which you have mentioned. It is indeed disappointing to note that the level of service accorded to you was not in line with your expectations of our 5* service and we hope that you will accept our sincere apologies on this occasion. Our crew members are trained to be polite and professional at all times and we regret that you had experienced otherwise. Customer satisfaction is top priority for Qatar Airways and as such,

we will not hesitate to impose drastic disciplinary action on staff proven to be guilty of an infraction towards a customer.


You have our assurances that your report has already been raised with our Cabin Services Manager and that whatever action may be necessary has been taken accordingly.

On a happier note, we are heartened to learn of your satisfaction with the level of service accorded to you by our crew members on board your fl ight to Munich instead, and that they had restored your confi dence in our services. We have since forwarded your appreciation to our Cabin Services Manager who will share it with the crew members concerned, and we are certain they will be gratifi ed to learn of your pleasure with the service they have provided. Please accept our sincerest apologies as we hope to have another opportunity of being of service to you on another Qatar Airways fl ight in the near future.

Yours sincerely, Syahirah Beck Offi cer - Customer Care (Asia Pacifi c), Qatar Airways

Read Health Club Management online at march 2012 © cybertrek 2012

time we fl y to Sri Lanka; indeed, when the staff politely asked if we would like to sign up for their loyalty programme, we did. T e response to our comment card came

10 days aſt er our return fl ight and was consistent with the airline’s evident quest for customer satisfaction (see below). A lesson for health clubs? I think so.



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