The analysis of the case will begin by understanding what the drivers of success were for IndiGo. It is a low-cost airline with no frills and an excellent punctuality record. These reinforcing factors, coupled with an excellent customer service, created a virtuous cycle which propelled the airline to success.
For travellers, aspects such as price, customer service, punctuality and safety, matter. In India, there is immense competition amongst low-cost carriers and thus, it is extremely important to maintain the points of parity of the industry.
Reactive crisis control
In a crisis situation, like the one faced by IndiGo, promotion and distribution channels of the classic 4P framework — price, product, promotion and place — should be leveraged to control the negative consequences.
Consumers should be guided from anger to be assuaged and assured. The company can be most influential during the inquisitive phase (refer to Exhibit B at the bottom of the article) by providing accurate and clear information. Emotional influence should be given in the next phase. Exhibit A outlines the step-wise process.
Time is of the essence. It is important that customers come to know about the story from the company itself. The face of the company, the CEO and the spokesperson should have immediately called a media conference to explain the situation, their stand, the progress of the investigation and the immediate steps taken. This would bring clarity and indicate that the company is viewing this as a serious matter.
~ Utilise all forms of communication : Social media, news channels and newspapers should be used to disseminate relevant information. Each media has its own relevance, which should be exploited.
~ Employees of the airline should have been asked to tweet, write FB posts and blogs, emphasising on how they strongly stand by the victim and condemn the act.
~ Investigate, develop solution and communicate : Quick decision-making and immediate solution to the issue at hand is a must. The carrier should have invited the passenger to the headquarters for lunch, apologised and made amends. In these competitive times, going overboard, making that extra effort and becoming India’s Nordstrom is important.
Connect with the people
~ The airline should have let the world know that it is working for a better service in the future. Campaigns such as ‘We learn from our mistakes’ could be useful.
~ It should host meet-and-greet for consumers in metro cities with its employees to alleviate concerns.
~ Have ‘live’ discussions on Facebook hosted by the internal stakeholders.
~ Encourage customers to share positive experiences with IndiGo on Twitter and Instagram.
~ Provide onboard feedback forms. Indigo currently gives the option of sharing feedback through SMS or an online login.
~ Keep a budget and plan ready if crisis occurs. Revise this every year to keep up with technology.
~ Role play, where there are angry flyers and calm employees, should be carried out every six months.
~ Employees should be reminded of the cost and image damage that a company suffers due to such situations. It can be explained through case studies of previous instances.
~ Employees should taught to deal with emotional labour.
~ Psychometric tests should be taken before recruiting cabin crew and ground staff.
Developing standard operating practices
~ Educate flyers during take-off regarding best behaviour practices, for everybody’s safety. Provide leaflets if required.
~ In case of altercations, crew should report it immediately to contain the damage.
~ A decentralised approach with cost ceiling should be taken to mitigate or alleviate such crisis so that quick action can be taken.
~ Request the flyer to accompany officers to the office of the airline at the airport to resolve the matter on the spot.
~ Introduce metrics to continuously measure customer satisfaction.
Building of ‘customer friendly’ image
All touch-points should be curated for this.
~ Website : Insert chatbots, encourage calling call centres for clarification and introduce music for holding.
~ Before flight : Send detailed instructions on how to reach the airport from the flyer’s address.
~ On-board : Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, where cabin crew give cards or sing; take pictures of 100th or 1,000th customers and put them on social media with reviews.
~ After flight : Send thank you messages.
~ Social Media : Put videos on YouTube to showcase its customer-friendly processes; use Instagram to display photos on in-flight cleanliness and Facebook for impressive infographics.
(The first runner-up is a second year student pursuing her PGDM at IIM Indore)