Ryanair CEO’s New Customer Service Strategy: Be Nice To People Instead Of Making Them Cry

Every time Ryanair’s CEO Michael “Seatbelts Don’t Matter” O’Leary opens his mouth, we’ve come to expect amusing things, usually about how much the airline doesn’t give a flying fig about customers. But O’Leary is trumpeting a turnaround today, something unprecedented for the airline: Being nice to customers.

What? Treating customers like people instead of leaving them crying at the gate, as one shareholder pointed out? Yes, O’Leary is ready for that, saying the airline will transform its “abrupt culture” to win customers over to its budget ways, reports Reuters.

“We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off,” O’Leary told the company’s annual general meeting, after several shareholders (including the one above) complained about the impact of customer service on sales.

This comes on the heels of Ryanair winning the title of worst of 100 big brands serving the British market, as voted by readers of a consumer magazine across the pond called Which?. The company said today it’d take it easy on fining customers over bags and just be nicer when it talks to them.

“A lot of those customer services elements don’t cost a lot of money … It’s something we are committed to addressing over the coming year,” O’Leary said.

He says even he was annoyed to learn that some staff fined customers when their bags were only slightly above the maximum size, and that staff would be more lenient from now on.

“If it’s a millimeter over size, get on with it. We are not trying to penalize people for the sake of a millimeter,” he said.

O’Leary admits that maybe all that pish-toshing he did and brushing aside of complaints over poor customer service just to make a buck wasn’t the best idea, as reports say he “nodded sheepishly” while everyone at the meeting brought up anecdotal evidence.

Things along the lines of: “Everyone boos me at the dinner table when I talk about investing in Ryanair,” or “Even my family members refuse to fly that airline because it’s awful, just awful.”

O’Leary also admitted that his character is deformed. No, really.

“I am very happy to take the blame or responsibility if we have a macho or abrupt culture. Some of that may well be my own personal character deformities,” O’Leary said.

Are you paying attention, Spirit?

Ryanair unveils new strategy – ‘be nice to customers’ [Reuters]