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How British Airways’ Communication Gamble Came Back to Hurt Them


British Airways proudly boasts their prestigious title of “World’s Favourite Airline.” But as far as their information system are concerned, the company’s willingness to cut costs has had an impact on their customer service.


Former CEO of British Airways Sir Colin Marshall was once asked in an interview what he feared most as an executive figure of a major company. His reply: “the pilots can be ill, the food can taste bad, the plane may be late and we lose the passengers’ baggage. I know I can fix these things and I will. But the thing I fear most is our Information Systems going down. We are critically dependent on our IT people for delivering our customer experience and for our survival. Our IT is of strategic importance and I keep my Chief Information Officer really close to me. Our IT is so important we would never outsource it.”


Since Marshall’s retirement from the role, BA have reneged on his wishes and started to outsource their IT. From a business perspective this made sense: the company could save costs and turn a bad situation around. However, no one stopped to consider how the customer would be affected by this decision.


A series of disappointed customers missing their flights or luggage, eventually leading to diminishing financial returns and disappointed shareholders, all with only one thing to blame: bad communication. All because of BA’s decision to outsource their IT in order to save costs. BA’s disastrous customer service has been spun around by their competitors such as Ryanair, who claim that at least they don’t outsource their IT like BA do.


So, when planning for the future, remember what has led to your success up until this point. Sacrificing a staple of your business for short-term gain can have unfortunate consequences down the line, unless your meticulous planning allows for a safety net in case things don’t all go according to plan. Contact Arvind at The Agile Works at arvind@theagileworks.com for more information on making plans the Agile way.


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