9 recommendations for airlines on how to best respond to Covid-19 crisis
At Simpliflying our primary goal is to help airlines become remarkable. Having worked with around 100 airlines (and airports + OEMs) globally in the past decade, we knew that during the Covid-19 crisis they would need our guidance more than ever. So we decided to do something about it.
In typical SimpliFlying’s manner, not only we wanted to share our knowledge on the best crisis communication practices but also connect airlines from different countries that find themselves in a similar situation. That’s why we created our first Airline Task Force.
Following the three phases of a crisis – Respond, Recover, Thrive – we held our first call yesterday on the first, Respond. In this article, we have summarized the key recommendations in 3 easy steps to help airlines better respond to the coronavirus epidemic.
Step 1: Establish clarity
Focus on what’s under your control
Each crisis brings a lot of uncertainties and unknowns, even more, when it is a black swan event like the Covid-19 outbreak. However, keep your focus on things that you can control, like costs, internal procedures and communications with stakeholders.
Think long term
There are too many variables outside the control of airlines in the short term. Along with keeping the focus on the important things, make sure to align your action items with your long term goals and plan at least 6+ months ahead.
Revise your budgets, run risk assessments and see how different scenarios can potentially unfold based on the knowledge you have of the situation today.
Nobody can predict how the situation of the Covid-19 outbreak will be tomorrow. Be agile. Organize team meetings first thing in the morning, take decisions on a daily basis and keep your stakeholders informed.
Step 2: Build awareness and commitment
Walk the talk
In times of heightened awareness, it is important to keep everyone informed about new organizational decisions, like cleaning procedures or operational announcements. This will help you ensure that you are delivering on your promises. Otherwise, you stand to lose brand trust formed over years of flying.
Look after your people
Your employees are the backbone of your airline and it is crucial to ensure their well-being too. Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace and have everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details up to date.
Minimize risks of infection
There are several ways you can reduce the risk of the spread of the virus:
- Let your teams work remotely and if not, distribute customer service and call centre to different rooms or levels.
- Quarantine your Operational Control Center by implementing rigid controls on who can enter. Be sure to prepare a plan B or a secondary location for your OCC, in case of infection.
Step 3: Understand your capability
Re-examine your resources
Identify your critical areas and departments and revise your resources often to meet the new priorities. This may involve escalating response teams and training other team members to help your Customer Service.
Incoming messages to our social and messaging channels last week were up 484% VLY.
71% of these were private messages.
— Paul Buckley (@paulbuckl_ey) March 16, 2020
In the age of endless notifications, try to keep your marketing and communication efforts to the minimum and share only the relevant information with your customers. Times like these require an empowered customer service but don’t over-communicate.
Focus on digital
Encourage customers to reach out to you via online channels – it can significantly reduce the time needed to answer the increasing amount of issues, comparing to call centres. Not only that, but you can also follow Aer Lingus’ strategy and adjust the customer service bot to screen and prioritise conversations for those travelling within the 72 hours.
We have also prepared a PDF with the key recommendations so you can easily share it with your colleagues. Feel free to download it here
Special thanks to Paul Buckley and Housam Raydan for sharing fast-changing ground realities.
Looking for more insights on how to deal with the Covid-19 crisis? In early April, SimpliFlying will be conducting a free webinar on the best practices for airlines to restore brand confidence through COVID-19. Sign up now to get notified of the dates.