BY DR CHRIS KIRUBI
It is said that the customer experience is the most valuable aspect of making and retaining clients. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, customers remember most how you made them feel and that determines whether they return.
Well this past week, Kenya Airways outdid themselves and provided the greatest customer experience any stakeholder could ever ask for. I was lucky to have been a part of the team that was going to bring the first Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner home from Seattle, Washington and will always feel attached to this particular ‘bird’.
As a frequent flier, I have flown many big and small planes and airlines. No matter how much I travel, I always look forward to the next time because it represents a new experience and new things waiting to be discovered. In fact, I always tell those I mentor that they must make an effort to travel and see the world.
What makes a particular flight stand out for me is the connections that I make and the relationships that I establish. Kenya Airways did just that for us. From the onset, one could see that a great deal of planning had gone into making sure we had a wonderful experience.
We had a week long agenda that involved visiting the Renton & Everett factories in Washington, where the Boeing planes are manufactured and assembled. We had dinner at an outstanding location in the Seattle Aquarium but also were able to visit many other landmarks.
The factory tours were most remarkable and witnessing this huge mechanical object getting wings to enable it become airborne was simply breathtaking. Right from the parking lot at Renton, where the fuselages are transported by train to being able to view the engine up close and personal, one feels small. One is reminded of their place in the universe and of the miracles of modern science that have enabled human kind to achieve the unimaginable.
I wonder what Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo, would feel were she alive to experience the cross-Atlantic flight in the Dreamliner.
The Dreamliner in itself is a marvel that has top of the line aesthetics. I am told that the particular model that Kenya Airways had procured can carry 242 passengers at a go but uses up to 20 percent less fuel. This is because Boeing has utilised newer technologies and has partnered with General Electric to design a more fuel efficient engine. For me, what made all the difference was in feeling like the air was fresher – of better quality and of course being able to fully recline my seat for much needed rest.
The delivery and launch of this big bird affectionately christened, ‘The Great Rift Valley’ is an experience I will always cherish.
In a time when the majority of news items that emerge from Kenya involve insecurity and terrorism, I was honoured to be a part of something greater.
In a time when we continue to experience disillusionment with our political leaders and delivery of public services, the private sector has not slowed down. I was overjoyed to be able to show the World that Kenya is still open for business; that our indomitable fighting spirit will keep us investing and reinvesting our time and resources into this great country.
I want to thank Kenya Airways for being a trailblazer. They have undertaken a momentous expansion program that involves purchasing a number of other airplanes and offering luxurious travel. This action can only be termed as visionary and I must congratulate the leadership. They have taken a seemingly far-fetched goal and dared to achieve it.
In our hearts, you remain our pride and the ‘Pride of Africa.’