Three years ago, Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan national airline company, chose Extens Consulting in order to extensively improve their customer relations. In order to respond to the issues of a sector in constant development, its service culture was standardized. Let’s go back to this mission, which was described during the 2017 European Customer Day by Emmanuel Richard, Director of Extens Consulting and Ghita Ayouche, who, at the time, was the Customer Relations & Training Manager for Royal Air Maroc.
Royal Air Maroc and the Airline Industry Context
In 2015, the airline industry experienced an overall crisis with a steep increase in the price of oil and strong competition from low-cost companies.
Moreover, passengers’ habits are evolving. We are witnessing a phenomenon of commoditization: flying has become as easy as taking any other type of transportation. Thanks to digitalization, passengers are more aware, expect more and want more interactions with brands.
As for Royal Air Maroc, it was in a restructuring phase up until 2013 where “cost killing” was the watchword.
In 2015, the company decided to place customer relations at the heart of their strategy in order to stay competitive. To do so, RAM launched an international call for tenders which Extens Consulting won.
In 2016, Royal Air Maroc served 100 destinations and 6 million passengers per year. The number of passengers rose by 10% between 2015 and 2016.
“We chose Extens Consulting for their expertise in multichannel customer relations, their knowledge of the industry and their ability to understand our needs and model.” Ghita Ayouche
How were Royal Air Maroc’s customer relations standardized?
Royal Air Maroc’s customer relations are quite complex. Indeed, all customer journeys are sprinkled with “moments of truth,” with contact points that are varied and difficult to manage. Moreover, one of the company’s specificities is that employees can belong to multiple subsidiaries.
“How can one deliver consistent customer service in an environment where uncertainties prevail?”
To standardize customer relations, Extens Consulting had to face 2 challenges:
- Unite teams around a mutual vision and a “company” project (a service culture based on shared values)
- Train employees using the same frame of reference
First, Extens Consulting carried out a preliminary audit. “Doing so allowed us to highlight the specificities of customer journeys with this airline company. We participated in pre-flight briefings, exchanged with the crew and met the managers. We became completely immersed in order to meet expectations and professional issues as fully as possible.” Emmanuel Richard, Director of Extens Consulting and Customer Experience Specialist, explained
After this analysis phase, the goal was to co-create a customer relations reference document called “Sky Code,” which applies to the company as well as subsidiaries. Three versions were made in order to meet the needs and professions of each person as fully as possible: Executives (directors), Managers and Employees. This guide contains the best practices to adopt depending on the situation (uncertainties, simple processes) as well as raises awareness about situational intelligence.
“The Sky Code needs to be able to address every customer issue.” Ghita Ayouche
In order to create the Sky Code, many workshops and quantitative studies were conducted with all stakeholders involved (from directors to the flight crew, ground crew and agency employees). This allowed us to gather impressions from everyone on their daily interactions with customers and measure the difficulties involved. “Easing employee experience directly impacts customer service. Considering the complexity of air transportation, especially with stop-over flights, it was important to identify what could be difficult and what could be made easier for employees in their daily tasks, especially during uncertain situations,” Emmanuel Richard explained. It was both the C2ES (Customer Employee Easy Score), developed by Extens Consulting, and the NPS that allowed us to measure customer and employee experiences.
Once the Sky Code was established, the challenge was to train all employees. To do so, a team of 100 trainers was formed in collaboration with Learning Tribes, a subsidiary of the Sitel Group, a sister company of Extens Consulting. Royal Air Maroc’s teams and its subsidiaries all received training on this Sky Code according to their profession (flight crew, ground crew, agency employees). Moreover, the teams also received pedagogical tools, making it possible for them to subsequently share their knowledge with others. During the training phase, e-learning modules were also used.
Results of the Mission and its Critical Success Factors
At the end of the mission, the three pillars of Royal Air Maroc’s customer relations were identified and will be used as the foundation for all of the company’s members and subsidiaries.
Furthermore, three operational versions of the Sky Code were created. Lastly, this change management project made it possible for Royal Air Maroc to win its 4th star from Skytrax. This award, based on a scale of 5 stars, awards airlines with the highest standard levels.
All of this could not have been possible without these key factors:
- Upper Management’s Involvement
The directors’ involvement was critical for the mission’s success. Indeed, the president and directors were highly involved in identifying the company’s values that must be visible in customer relations. For Emmanuel Richard: “At a time when many employees are spread out between different subsidiaries,, it was important to give meaning to each person. This is what management was able to provide.”
- The Teams’ Involvement
Through studies assessing the level of ease conducted with employees, many ideas emerged, the “who does what” was clarified and customer journeys and their fluidity were reviewed: for example, managing a layover becomes more natural when each employee knows how to ensure the handover between the flight crew and the ground crew.
- An Entertaining Frame of Reference Anchored in a Reality Full of Uncertainties
The Sky Code, inspired by the well-known Highway Code, made it easy to understand for everyone. An entertaining aspect was also added thanks to bonus systems.
“We were delighted to work with Extens Consulting. It was both a wonderful project and experience.” Ghita Ayouche