The Web customer is increasingly immune to marketing hype and advertising dream-making.Ryanair sells cheap flights. Over 40 million people bought cheap flights from them in 2007. But Ryanair is a company that many love to hate.
It's partly an Irish thing. Ryanair was this tiny Irish company and now they're hugely successful. They've become too big for their boots, as we say in Ireland. The Irish love to begrudge and complain. They say a well-balanced Irishman is someone with a chip on each shoulder.
The Irish media are really happy now that there are strong signs of a global recession. They couldn't stand success. They were becoming increasingly bitter about not having much to be bitter about anymore. It was doing their heads in.
As the Irish economy boomed and the country was economically transformed, the Irish intellectual elite and media pundits complained about how Ireland was losing its soul, heart and kidneys, and about how you still couldn't get a brain-transplant in the local health clinic.
And Ryanair, oh Ryanair, what a horrible, soulless, heartless company. Ryanair sold you tickets at half the price of their competitors, but if you were one minute late, they wouldn't let you on the plane. If your baggage was one milligram overweight, you had to pay. And they didn't smile enough. It was insulting; such terrible customer service!
Hold onto your smiles for a minute. Let's examine what customer service actually is when it comes to flying. I want to fly from Dublin to London. One airline offers to sell me a ticket for €150 and Ryanair offers to sell it to me for €75. I can only presume the other airline is saying to me: We charge €75 to smile.
Here's my dream customer service. I want to reach my destination, and get in and out of the airport, as quickly as possible. Ryanair gets you on the plane really quickly and has an excellent record for punctuality.
How do they do this? There's no allocated seating and they have boarding stairs at the front and back of the plane. They're punctual because they run a military-style operation and if you're late, tough.
Ryanair are honest. They say: this is exactly what you get, nothing more. Listen, I have promised many times never to fly Ryanair again. I was a minute late, my bags were overweight, or I made some small mistake, and Ryanair made me pay.
I changed my mind because Ryanair genuinely charges much less than the competition. I changed my mind because, over the years, I've realized that most airlines don't care very much about their customers.
Ryanair is a product of the Web. The Web customer is more cynical, skeptical and impatient. They love to compare and are out for a good deal. The Web strips away a lot of the marketing hype and advertising illusions that TV and print love to feed us.
Ryanair delivers better value to the customer than its competitors. You get what you pay for and you pay for what you get. It's marketing and business stripped down to the bare essentials. And it works. After all, 40 million customers can't be wrong.
About the Author
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.