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Putting Airbus Helicopters Inc. first in customers’ minds is a smart strategy, given how competitive the last few years have been for new helicopter sales. Slumping oil prices and other economic factors have substantially reduced the demand for new helicopter purchases. Meanwhile, the contraction of the oil & gas sector has resulted in affordable used helicopters flooding the market.


Future prospects for new helicopter sales are not encouraging, according to Honeywell. In its 19th annual “Turbine- Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook” that was released in March 2017, Honeywell predicted that 3,900 to 4,400 civilian-use helicopters will be delivered from 2017 to 2021 — roughly 400 fewer helicopters than in its 2016 five-year forecast.


The current slump is just the latest dip in the boom-and-bust cycle that has always affected helicopter sales. But this slump is severe enough to cause helicopter manufacturers to fundamentally re-evaluate their positions in the global marketplace, not just in terms of preserving market share, but rethinking what makes their products and their companies stand


38 Nov/Dec 2017


out against the competition. “One of the benefits of having a slowdown for new helicopter deliveries is that it gives you breathing room to look closely at how your company has been doing business, and allows you to consult closely with clients as to how you can do things better,” said Chris Emerson, president of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and head of Airbus Helicopters’ North American Region. “That’s very difficult to do when new helicopter sales are growing annually by double digits and your focus is on production.”


In the case of Airbus Helicopters Inc., Emerson and his top managers know that their aircraft are already well-respected by operators worldwide. So, the logical way to motivate people to buy new Airbus helicopters is to improve the customer service that machines.


“We’ve spent the last few years figuring out how our customers depend on us and what they need from us, by talking to them directly and getting their feedback from customer focus groups,” Emerson said. “What we’ve found, and what is guiding us now, is that top-quality customer service is absolutely vital, as far as helicopter owners and operators are concerned.”


backs its cutting-edge


This is why Airbus Helicopters Inc. is focused on improving service end-to-end: from the initial point of customer contact for purchasing; through acquisition, production, completion, and delivery; and then after-sales service and support for the aircraft’s lifetime.


“Today, whatever our specific jobs are at Airbus Helicopters Inc., we are all customer service people,” said Anthony Baker, the company’s vice president of customer support. (To reinforce the importance of customer service, Airbus Helicopters Inc. is one of a few major companies in the world to raise customer service/support supervision to a vice presidential level.) “This is why we have transformed the culture within Airbus Helicopters Inc. to put customer service first in everything we do; not just sales and service, but staff training and day-to-day operations.”


Here is what Airbus Helicopters Inc. is doing to make its customer service commitment tangible in very specific ways...


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