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The Customer or the Shareholder - the choice is yours!

Falling profits and share value, clients playing the system, customer complaints through the roof and now dissatisfied pilots; Michael O’Leary clearly has his work cut out in halting the nose dive of his airline business.

Once the darling of the stock market, a dominant market position and the master of marketing low cost flights, Ryanair have been forced to admit that their unfriendly and unhelpful customer service practices are affecting their business.

Those who hear me speak at conferences regularly understand the constant message of looking after your customers.  The statistics are clear.  It costs 5-10x to acquire a client and 1x to keep them.  But if a client is lost through poor product or poor customer service then it is 50-100x more costly to get them back.

So the mantra here is this - look after your existing clients

The case of Ryanair has highlighted how it is very easy to hack off your customers with poor customer service and hidden charges.  Ryanair has forgotten that it is how many times a client comes back to use your service which determines the long term health of your business.  In the business we call this lifetime value.  This is the value that each customer spends with your organisation over a long period of time.  One-off purchases can be achieved but as illustrated above can be very expensive rather than keep a satisfied client coming for more.

So the lessons of above can be summarised in a number of statements around customer care and satisfaction.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know who your top customers are?
  • When was the last time you saw them face to face?
  • Do you know the key contacts name, hobbies, family etc?
  • Do you understand their business pain (how can you solve it)?
  • Do you know what business service delights them?
  • Do you know what they hate (in regards to business practices)?
  • Are they likely to recommend you to someone else?
  • Would they still do business with you if you messed up?
  • Do you have a customer satisfaction process in place?
  • Do you find out why customers leave?
  • Do you learn from your mistakes?


A culture of understanding and delighting the needs of the customer is key from all levels of the organisation.  Michael O’Leary has to change first then his staff!

So let us get back to the question I asked at the beginning of this article.  Who do we serve, our customers, the business or ourselves.  The answer is clearly that we should all look after our customers, delight them, bring them clear solutions to their needs through fantastic products or services.  If you do that then they will come back time and time again, and you know what, you will have a business with good profits and longevity - and happy shareholders!

Our clients have used our coaching and mentoring services to strengthen the relationships with their customers leading to double and treble digit growth, the creation of several millionaires and 18 business awards won by our clients over the last 4 years.   Talk to us about how we can help your business to grow through looking after your clients.   

on 6th December, 2013


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