Tiger Airways needs to make different promises

In light of the Virgin Australia stake in Tiger Airways this past week, I was thinking about the promises they make. One of my issues with Tiger Airways is that they seem to want to “have their cake and eat it too” in the promises they have made.

It’s a common budget airline problem underscored by the operating reality that low prices means that something has got to give! When you are charging as low as $10 for a ticket, common sense and realistic expectations would suggest that there aren’t going to be any frills with that.

However, in an effort to be low cost and “customer friendly” that’s not what happens. From the Tiger Airways web site:

“Tiger is committed to offering customers great value fares and friendly service while maintaining the highest standards of safety, security and reliability.”

It’s the kind of generic tick the boxes, cover you bases statement that could conceivably come from any airline. Now contrast that with well-known pioneering budget airline Ryanair:

“Ryanair believes that any worthwhile passenger service commitment should involve commitments to low prices and high punctuality. That’s why Ryanair publish its Customer Service Statistics each month and these confirm that Ryanair is Europe’s No. 1 for Customer Service with unbeatable prices and punctuality.”

The biggest problem with the Tiger Airways statement is that when you promise everything chances are you will end up delivering pretty much nothing. And as plenty of late and stranded Tiger customers will attest, nothing is too often what they got.

Now take a closer look at Ryanair. They make it absolutely clear that their commitment and promises are centred on low prices and being on time. And they rigorously manage their operations to deliver those things, allowing them to keep that promise as a result.

As they note, the airline has also been rated #1 for customer service in Europe. Not bad for an airline that doesn’t really talk about customer service (and by all accounts hardly delivers any).

It might seem like a paradox but it isn’t. When you clearly set expectations (whatever they are) – this is what we care about, here is how we do it and why we meet them; satisfied customers are the result.

So the challenge for Tiger Airways is to make better promises. The temptation will be great with involvement of Virgin Australia to move towards a model that has elements of their approach and delivery. But that would be the wrong move.

First Tiger Airways must get clear on what they want to promise and what they CAN do. Clearly communicate those expectations (whatever they are) to customers and resist the temptation to try and promise everything and appeal to everyone. Rigorously align operations so they are kept. Measure how they are doing and repeat.

That’s how you build a brand.

See you next week.

Michel is an independent Brand advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan

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