Working in Partnership to Deliver Enhanced Customer Service


In the final blog of the Customer Service Week series, Samantha Saunders hands over to Rob Stefanovic, Senior Commercial Manager at OmniServ, to share an example of how cooperation between partners can help build trust and recognition.

Trust: Building brand reputation and trust by delivering on promises

When it comes to customer service, the most obvious area where trust comes into play is the relationship between the service provider and the consumer – or, in the case of the air travel industry, between airline and passenger.

But there are other trust-based relationships behind the scenes that come in to play first, such as when two companies are working together. If the partners can’t trust each other to deliver on their respective promises, then how are they ever going to build trust with the paying public?

OmniServ provides services to a large number of airlines and airports in the UK. In a small number of contracts, however, rather than supplying services as a contractor, we work in partnership with another company via a joint venture. The creation of Blue Handling, a joint venture between OmniServ and Ryanair, is a case in point.

Ryanair is Europe’s Number 1 airline, carrying over 138 million customers a year on more than 2,500 daily flights from 86 bases, connecting 224 destinations in 37 countries. In 2018, Ryanair identified an opportunity to improve its ground handling operations at its biggest airport hub, Stansted, and put the contract out to tender.

OmniServ, the European arm of global airport and airline services supplier, ABM, was selected to work with it on delivering a bold new vision – a completely new company, which would give the airline much more input into the day-to-day running of some of the most crucial elements of its customer service delivery.

Trust would be core to the venture’s success. Trust between Ryanair and its new business partner, OmniServ, and trust between both management teams and the employees working for them.

The result was Blue Handling, a new ground handling solutions provider created by OmniServ just for Ryanair. In only three months, OmniServ worked seamlessly with the local Ryanair management team to develop this new company with nearly 1,000 workers. Just over half of the employee team came from the previous supplier under TUPE regulations, while OmniServ recruited another 450.

The new Blue Handling operation is now responsible for Ryanair’s above- and below-wing ground handling, which includes providing baggage agents, ramp agents, toilet and water services, de-icing, runway services, cargo handling and ticket desk personnel.

OmniServ also developed a new brand identity, logos and uniforms. Previously, there had been no single corporate identity for Ryanair’s Stansted ground handling operations.

Employees, both those from the previous contractor and the new hires, went through extensive training to unite them behind the new brand and instil them with a sense of mission: to provide the best possible service for Ryanair’s passengers.

At the same time, Ryanair invested significant sums in new equipment for Blue Handling, with workers being brought up to speed on the latest vehicles and technologies.

Employees had to feel part of the brand, and they had to trust the people they were working with and the people they were working for. The new company’s management knew that it was vital to create a strong sense of teamwork, passion and pride in their jobs. They had to win the hearts and minds of all employees, old and new, and they did that by delivering a thorough and strategic employee engagement programme.

The closeness of the partnership between Ryanair and OmniServ was a major factor in Blue Handling’s successful launch. It is truly a partnership, which has resulted in an industry-leading operation based on the triple ethos of partnership, trust and transparency.

Ryanair Operations Director Adrian Dunne said of the first few months: “Blue Handling has been a major success, and was up and running very quickly, delivering above and beyond what we would have expected.”

He highlighted how employees at all levels reacted during a recent severe weather disruption, when thunderstorms over the South East of England saw 14 cancelled Stansted departures, 14 cancelled arrivals and a number of aircraft and crews, usually based elsewhere, stuck in Stansted.

Dunne says: “I was delighted and very proud at how Blue Handling rose to this challenge, with 18 ticket desks opened to assist passengers, team members from all areas including the ramp and undercraft coming upstairs to help, and all bags delivered on time, despite huge difficulties. These efforts helped keep the level of cancellations to a minimum, with compliments from Stansted airport on how well Blue Handling had performed in such challenging circumstances.”

Working together, rather than in a classic contractor-client relationship, has allowed us to share information, manage expectations on both sides, create solutions to challenges and, above all, create trust, with the airport and with Ryanair’s passengers.

Blue Handling only officially launched in February 2019 and the new ground handling operation is already delivering outstanding service levels with a 90% improvement on performance and satisfaction levels compared with a year ago.

Other articles in this series:

About OmniServ

OmniServ Limited is the International Division of ABM Aviation, the aviation division of ABM Industries. ABM Aviation provides a comprehensive range of innovative and dependable solutions, including Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) Operations, to more than 100 airports globally. This includes the top 30 airports within the USA and 15 airports within the UK. Established in 2004, OmniServ employs over 5000 staff delivering ‘Legendary Service’ across a wide portfolio of aviation services.

Leave a Comment