Flight of Communications Fancy?
Not far behind the story of air and rail disruption has been the one about how customers have been treated. In particular the communications process and content that’s been in place. Or, according to some, has been absent.
Most of us who were put in this situation would ideally want just one piece of communication – your flight/train is on time and please get on it. However that hasn’t been the case for thousands of people. For them the hope, and reasonable expectation, has been they’d receive accurate information about what the situation was, when they’d get the next update, and what was recommended that they do. Unfortunately for those stranded at airports who may have welcomed a hot meal the nearest they’ve come to one is seeing the airlines and airports pass the hot potato of communications from one to another.
A British Airports Authority (BAA) spokesman was on the radio this morning. He said that, in future, airlines that didn’t have round-the-clock customer contact services may not be allowed to use Heathrow. A small step only. Not least because he also said that this was likely to be airlines that only operated a handful of flights. So the overwhelming number of passengers wouldn’t see any change.
There’s no doubt that BAA, BA, Virgin, and nearly all the significant airlines have crisis plans in place that include how they communicate with customers. Trouble is, some of these don’t seem to have been very effective, and there was nobody joining them up. Passengers sometimes got conflicting information, sometimes little or none. Surely it’s time for BAA (or any airport operator) to get all their airlines together and construct an unambiguous communications plan that spells out who is responsible for what? Total clarity on the frequency of updates, who communicates about specific flights, who about passenger facilities for those delayed, etc. It’s a sensible pooling of the expertise and resources that exist.
All local authorities have Emergency Plans for the hopefully never-to-happen of major crisis or disaster. They bring together a range of organisations that would be involved – police, fire, ambulance, transport, armed forces, many private companies – and spell out clearly where communications roles lie. It’s not beyond the wit of the airline industry to do similar is it?
For many people it’s been “who you gonna call?”. They may have got a better answer from Ghostbusters.
Posted on: 22nd December 2010 in
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