The challenge

Virgin Atlantic’s brand is synonymous with consistently high-quality customer service. When making plans for the new Terminal 3 (T3) facility at London’s Heathrow, they knew they needed to listen to their customers and deliver what they wanted.

Their research showed them that customers wanted to get through check-in as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, they didn’t want to sacrifice any of the warmth or quality of service they’d come to expect from Virgin Atlantic. This applied whether people were travelling Economy, Premium Economy or Upper Class.

Their new ‘terminal-within-a-terminal’, with state-of-the-art operating systems, was a significant investment. It was therefore essential for Virgin Atlantic’s team to deliver a truly memorable customer experience.

In just four months, we needed to design and deliver a customer experience and leadership programme for over 600 front-line staff and managers.

What we did

Working closely with Virgin Atlantic, we developed and delivered ‘T3 Futures’; a coordinated training programme, designed to encourage a whole new way of working. The main focus was on equipping staff with the skills, confidence and mind-set to work in the new self-service environment. We also designed special ‘Leading T3 Futures’ events for managers, focused on leading, coaching and supporting the new customer experience in the face of all possible challenges.

The practical issues were enormous. T3 was still being built while the training programme was being designed and implemented, and the new service processes were continually evolving.

With the eyes of the world focused on developments at T3, there was no margin for error. All staff needed to work more efficiently, and deliver an individual and personalised customer experience.

The events were delivered by Brand Biology’s behavioural change consultants and professional actors, working in conjunction with Virgin Atlantic’s own licensed trainers.

The results

‘T3 Futures’ was designed in two months, and successfully rolled out to managers and staff within another two. The results were exceptional:

  • 93% of Upper Class passengers rated the check-in service as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’
  • 85% of Premium Economy passengers rated the check-in service as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’
  • 92% of Economy passengers rated the check-in service as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’

“97% of our airport team said that the training they received was the single most important factor in preparing them to deliver a new service experience. I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Five years on and our customer service team at airports still talk about ‘that training we did with the actors’ and it’s not unusual for people to refer to the different customer types, which suggests the message sunk in. Brand Biology’s style and content meant employees were able to hold the mirror up to people’s behaviour in a safe, fun way and inspire people to change without telling them. Customer satisfaction continues to be high.”

Learning & Development Consultant
Virgin Atlantic