How can you sometimes be worst and still come out a winner?

How can you sometimes be worst and still come out a winner?
This week, I learned at first hand a few interesting insights into what makes a really great service – and for the business behind it this has translated into incredible success and profitable growth. The business concerned came from tiny humble beginnings to overtake dominant industry giants and transformed the lives of millions of people across Europe.

Is the best always the best?
So before I get started on my tale, maybe you might reflect on what counts as a great customer experience for you? Perhaps you dream of sipping champagne in the pool of a luxurious 5 star hotel? (For anyone who is addicted to luxury the hotels of Dubai set a hard standard to beat).

I guess for most of us, and for many businesses, we assume that it must entail the very best possible of each and every element of the service we’re consuming. But unless we’re willing to pay the ultimate 5 star price – then the businesses supplying the service are likely to lose a great deal of money.

When you absolutely, positively have to be there on time
Perhaps its time now to share my story. I received an invite on Tuesday to meet a potential client in Dublin the following morning. I was going out with a colleague over from Melbourne but due to fly back home to Australia on Wednesday evening.
There are a lot of airlines to choose from with an enormous difference in pricing. But who should one choose? In the past I’ve enjoyed flying with Aer Lingus who do a delicious Irish breakfast which you can even enjoy with champagne – mind you for the price you could buy a few bottles of champagne and an awful lot of sausages ;-)

It’s a long way to Australia if you miss your flight
We didn’t want to be late for the meeting and Ian didn’t want to miss his flight back home to Australia. So the choice of airline came down to who offered the most reliable on time service. This turned out to be RyanAir, my very first flight on Europe’s leading low-cost airline (sorry Stelios). In terms of price, they were less than half the cost of the normal airlines (despite the majority of the ticket price being taxes). The seats (for those who have never travelled Ryan Air) are basic – they make a London bus seem luxurious. They don’t even have seat backs so they don’t have to empty them when turning around the flight for the next group of passengers.

Let the folks know you’re a winner
Still, most important of all the flights there and back were spot on time. Just to emphasise this, as we landed a bugle sounded to announce another on time arrival each time. We met our hosts and returned home just when we needed to safe and sound – all in all a great day out. Of course, being a management consultant, I took out my note book to put down my thoughts and insights from my experience.

RyanAir have focused on just 3 things in their business:
They keep everything incredibly simple so they can offer the lowest prices
They are number 1 on being on time (and they let you know it)
The planes are safe

In business terms, they have focused on leadership on the 2 decision factors that matter most and then made minimal investment in all the other factors. Investing in the other factors mean their competitors prices are 2 to 3 times higher. This has allowed them to grow from a tiny airline that flew only one route in 1985, flying a 14 seat Embraer turbo-prop, from Waterford to London Gatwick to carrying 42.5 million passengers in FY 2006/07.

And the so what from this tale for you in business and personally?
As a business, what is the most important factor for customers in your market? Are you the best? What would it take for you to be the best?

As an individual, if you want to succeed then you need to have an edge that is specific to you. The edge can mean winning a promotion or payrise, or winning the hearts of those that matter most to you. So on a personal level, what do you want to be known for? How good are you? What would it take for you to be even better?

Get an incredible bargain before anyone else does
Just to finish off on a personal note, we’ve always wanted to visit the beautiful Hanseatic cities in the Baltics. I thought I’d research the fares on RyanAir for a trip later this month – the flight costs were 1 Euro penny each way plus taxes. Log on now before all the seats are taken :-)

Regards John.