John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Service Aptitude Starts at the Top
October 24, 2012, 8:19 am
Filed under: Customer Service


The Beast: CEO says ‘stupid’ customers deserve to pay penalty fees – I don’t make this stuff up. It is really true! Michael O’Leary, head of Ryanair, called his customers “idiots” this week. O’Leary was speaking specifically about fliers who fail to print their boarding passes before they arrive at the airport, and are therefore forced to pay Ryanair’s $60 fee. The issue came to a head after a mom had to pay a $380 penalty fee to print boarding passes so her family could fly home from Spain to Britain. She aired her concerns on Facebook and got hundreds of thousands of “likes.”


‘Stupidity fee’ – O’Leary responded to the all the posts by saying;

“We think Mrs. McLeod should pay 60 euros for being so stupid. She wasn’t able to print her boarding card because, as you know, there are no Internet cafes in Alicante, no hotels where they could print them out for you, and you couldn’t get to a fax machine so some friend at home can print them and fax them to you.”


‘Gotcha economy’- I hope you can see that this ends badly. When all companies’ profits come from hidden and/or penalty fees, they only survive by getting very good at handing out such punishments. That is exactly what damaged the reputation of the banking and cell phone industry in the late 90’s early 2000’s. This is something called the “Gotcha economy,” which rewards being sneaky and cheating the customer.


The Beauty: CEO Hotline – UmpQua Bank is unlike any other bank I have ever seen. If you have a question or comment and want to take it right to the top, every location has a phone with a sign next to it that reads, “Let’s talk” (see photo). Pick it up and you get the CEO, Ray Davis’, office. You can pick up the phone and tell him what you think they are doing right, what you think they can do better, or ask him anything you’d like.


UmpQua Bank’s Manifesto – There is a sign that hangs in every location that reads, “Welcome to the World’s Greatest Bank.” This is not a tag line; it is a state of mind. Fresh and unexpected is the norm – it’s where an errand turns into a pleasant escape. This bank is like Cheers. You can hang out, serf the Internet, or have a latte.


Umpqua Bank’s Customer Service Vision –

It’s making sure every customer who walks into our doors

is a better person for having banked with us





It takes months to find a customer, seconds to lose one. 



John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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