In a continuing effort to win brand loyalty and more passengers, United Airlines will shift focus to Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge how it is performing against other carriers.
United Airlines Puts Focus On Net Promoter Score
What is NPS?
Net Promoter Score is calculated through one question in the post-flight survey:
“How likely are you recommend United to a friend, relative or colleague?”
Passengers can choose a number between 0-10, with zero meaning you would strongly discourage others from booking Untied and 10 meaning you would strongly encourage others to book United.
Passengers who rate 9-10 are seen as promoters, those who rate 7-8 are seen as neutral or passive, and those who rate 0-6 are seen as detractors.
The NPS score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors.
Toby Enquist, United’s Chief Customer Officer, notes “there is no better way to understand how people feel about United than through our Net Promoter Score.” He adds:
“NPS measures brand advocacy and whether customers would be likely to recommend us to their friends, family or colleagues. It’s deemed the best indicator of brand affinity and is more predictive of brand loyalty than the flight experience information we gather through our customer satisfaction survey (which we referred to as CSAT).
“We must compete for our customers’ loyalty and NPS also allows us to benchmark our performance against our competitors.”
As I shared in February, United’s 202 NPS was 30 points higher than in 2019.
> Read More: How United Airlines Plans To Be World’s Number One Airline
How United Airlines Wants Employees To Improve NPS
United encourages employees to focus on four areas in order to raise the carrier’s NPS:
- Provide a warm greeting and make a connection
- Make eye contact and smile through your mask
- Welcome customers as they board
- Personalize a customer’s experience, when possible (like initiating conversation or using a customer’s name)
- Show empathy and be helpful
- Anticipate customer needs by being proactive
- Take time to listen and put yourself in a customer’s (or colleague’s) shoes
- Try to solve problems at the first point of contact
- Share gratitude
- Thank customers for flying United
- Acknowledge customers’ Premier status and thank them for their loyalty
- Recognize team members for their actions
- Be dependable and consistent
- Every customer, every flight, every day
- Help customers arrive at their destination on time, with their bags
- Come to work prepared for both your fellow teammates and our customers
What This Means For Customers
The most frequent complaint I hear about United Airlines is that it is consistently inconsistent. You can go from one flight having a proactive, friendly, caring flight crew to having an irritable, lazy, apathetic crew on your connection.
Indeed, I’ve experienced that myself (though I must add that the good far outweighs the bad).
But this heightened focus on NPS underscores how important it is to fill out post-flight surveys, particularly the recommend question I noted above.
Live and Let’s Fly has spoken to enough employees to know this is not lipstick on a pig. Under CEO Scott Kirby, United is determined to maximize profit and sees the path to doing so by improving customer service in areas that will lead to a more loyal customer base.
Of course the four areas for improvement above require everyone from reservation agents to pilots, ground staff to flight attendants to put their best on display every single moment of every day. That’s easier said than done, especially when it requires going above and beyond normal duties by initiating conversation or being more proactive.
Even as United Airlines plans to begin sharing post-flight customer survey feedback directly with flight attendants as a means to improve service, its greater focus will be on raising its NPS.
The takeaway is that if United is serious about raising its NPS, we are going to see better service at airports and onboard.
I agree with United’s checklist except I find it creepy when the address me by name if I haven’t told them my name.
What if I went up to a FA and showed empathy saying “Fred, so sorry you have genital herpes but I appreciate your service at United!”.
To be honest, I’d rather they just skip the name than call me “Matthew” (versus “Mr. Klint”). I believe it is professional to call passengers by surnames, and quite unprofessional to call them by given names.
When I was a kid and also as a young adult making my own flight decisions, I admit that United’s livery and slogan made me fly them over slightly ugly AA. So everything counts.
As far as recommending United to others, that is risky because of the unpredictable nature of air travel.
@Matthew I echo your sentiment. I don’t use my legal given name at all, so when anybody addresses me by it, it’s very obviously insincere. I don’t “need” to be referred to as Mr., but it’s certainly more professional. If I am addressed as Mr., I usually follow up with a friendly “please call me Jerry.”
I agree with you, I prefer Mr. Surname over given name. I’m always REALLY impressed when they call me “Dr.” instead of “Mr.” In no way do I look down on getting “Mr.”; it’s a polite and welcomed greeting and an appropriate one when you don’t know someone, but “Dr.” means they did their homework. Emirates and Singapore always do. Lufthansa uses “Mr. Dr.”, which I understand is the German way.
Lufthansa always calls me by my surname and pronounces it properly too (it is not Germanic but Northern European, but they always get it right!) which makes me feel good, too bad their food and business class seats are the pits.
As an elite I always appreciate being acknowledged but wish the purser or FA who says hello and thanks me for being 1K would then not say the EXACT same thing with no personality to the person behind me. It loses a lot and makes you feel like you are a check on a checklist not a person, which is the opposite intent. I’d say I get 50/50 on being acknowledged at all and of that maybe 50% is friendly and genuine. Something they could definitely work on.
I just got a long survey from United about my travel plans in 2021 and 2022 and what I’d value re safety and loyalty. Filled it all out including comments. Hope they listen!
Great customer service is achieved by example,not by an arbitrary list of demands. Let supervisors and managers lead the way by getting to know their staff personally. Ask about their life struggles and achievements. Have administrators come to the check in desk when there are irregular operations and demonstrate problem solving skills during the crisis.
What Lara S. said
My problem with the, “How likely are you to recommend United,” survey is that I always answer I’m not at all likely regardless of how the flight was. Some of my earliest childhood memories, almost from infancy, are of hating United. We flew United almost exclusively for decades as it was our only option out of our small SoCal town. As an adult, I was offered a job by United and declined because I realized during the interview process, I really loathe absolutely everything about United. Of course, as an Ex-Con, I now work for them, and I find them as loathsome as ever. I fly them because they’re convenient and cheap (with my employee discount). When I have a fantastic flight on United, I consider it an aberration because I have imbedded in my soul the knowledge that United is horrible and will always be horrible. And when I have a long string of wonderful flights on United, as I have the past couple of years, I still answer that I wouldn’t recommend them because I think the wonderful flights are just a mistake. In those surveys, I often give high marks for every question they ask, but then answer that I would not recommend United.
Delta has been focused on NPS for several years now. I think I read/heard in a recent interview, or maybe it was an earnings call, Delta experienced a year-over-year increase in average NPS, even during the pandemic. Sounds like a reasonable metric to measure against.
Joe Mart, the problem United got rid of supevisors and any who are left have to clear everything with Wacker tower. Leadership at United is an APP. Instead of getting internet likes, how about investing in your people and products.
Do you get called by your given name by flight attendants often? I can’t recall that ever happening to me.
Also, what is going on with the reply function in the comments?
I’m so sorry about the reply problem. We’ve been trying to fix it for three weeks…it is a WordPress issue.
No, flight attendants generally do not call me by my first name on United (or Lufthansa or Swiss). Last time it happened was on Virgin Australia.
Reccomending UA to another 1K MM flyer would be useless and reccomending UA to to a non-UA flyer without some status would be problematic so it’s a hard ?
I agree to a point with United trying to be better but United needs to also focus on its staff. Maybe think about why “Suzie” is lazy and don’t care. Is it because “Suzie” been working over 12 hours on her duty is pushed to limit or is “Suzie” working short staffed. “Suzie” maybe a reserve working in fear of losing her job. There several reasons why people act or react the way they do. I believe that it all starts at that interview process. United like most needs flight attendants on planes not for service but for FAA safety reasons so that is why they will hire someone they that can train to be “nice” even though that may not seem nice. They will claim they have policies that keep people inline of being nice. hmm not true.,.. If United wants to keep passengers happy and coming back, United needs “STANDARDS” Not guidelines or weak policies that no cares about. Like the saying says “IF YOU DON”T CARE ….WHY SHOULD I CARE…'” THINK BEYOND …..FLY ABOVE
I can’t imagine anyone giving them a 5 or higher on any international flight currently.
0 based on the current beer selection