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  • Suzanne Lugthart

For instant insight, dump the NPS surveys, just walk the walk

As a research professional I’ve always been a bit cynical about NPS and CSAT surveys.

Rarely have I found a direct correlation between those scores and business performance. It can happen but it’s the exception not the rule. Companies invest considerable sums of money running them and then trying to squeeze some insight out of them, which is not always easy. Not least because the people who fill them in are usually either very happy customers or people who have something to get off their chests.

I want to use my recent airline experience to explain why there is a much better and faster way to find out what’s wrong and fix things.

We travelled with BA from T5 recently. It wasn’t great to be honest.

First, online check in is no longer allowed due to the vast amount of paperwork that needs checking.

So you arrive nice and early and stand in a cattle pen for an hour waiting to check in, until it gets too close to your flight time when they haul you out the queue and check you in anyway.

The member of staff who checked us in asked to see our PCR tests. We told him we didn’t need them for Greece as we had vax certification

On the four hour flight there was no food service whatsoever beyond a small bottle of water and a miniature breakfast bar, given to everyone for free. Because of all the queuing we didn’t have time to buy food before boarding so that was it.

The cabin crew huddled at the back out of sight once we’d been given our small bundle of sustenance

The flight left on time, arrived early, captain talked to us a few times. My husband gave him a good score on the landing.

Two days later BA send us a survey asking about our recent flight to Mykonos. Would we recommend BA to a friend or relative? Well we were very grateful to BA for taking us to Mykonos after EasyJet cancelled 3 flights but not sure that answers that question.

So here’s my point. Rather than spending hours crafting and analysing survey results from people who could be bothered to tell you about their trip, BA could have developed a plan of action in one day. By living the experience with me. During my six hour end to end experience I can tell you:

1. It was my worst travelling experience for some years

2. It was clear a lot of people were turning up without the right paperwork. It’s complicated. So some pre-departure advice or checklist for travellers from BA may helped have reduced this

3. Alternatively disconnect the paperwork checking from the bag drop. That would allow hand baggage only people to get through the system more quickly

4. Consider checking the paperwork at the gate – as was the case we experienced last year. This means the people checking are 100% knowledgeable about what the entry requirements are for that destination and don’t ask you for things you don’t need. If we hadn’t been clear ourselves we may have panicked

5. Let people know in advance they might need to bring some food with them or promote pre-ordering more prominently.

6. And if cabin crew are there for our safety, why hide them at the back of the plane? A lot of the survey questions were about how “safe” I felt. I was on the plane. Doesn't that say something about my confidence in BA?

All that insight in six hours with some actionable suggestions versus a big survey which will feed into a dashboard and verbatims cogitated about over many weeks

“Walking in their shoes” and observational research are amongst the most powerful forms of research if you’re looking to understand where an experience is going wrong or well. I recently spent a very insightful two days watching people clean their toilets and was able to feed in more insight than any survey asking people how satisfied they are with their bottle of Toilet Duck ever could

There’s a lot to get fixed here, most of it crap that's been imposed on them and they're doing their best, but I do hope BA don’t wait weeks to get round to fixing it.


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