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Customer satisfaction ranks high at VAS

Customer satisfaction ranks high at VAS

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Nothing gives VAS Operations Manager Brenda Telemaque greater pleasure than having her flights fully booked, having all passengers travel accompanied by all their luggage.

But this was tested to the hilt by the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Ivan provided the most challenging moments of her four years at Vincy Aviation Services.{{more}}

‘We had several groups traveling at that time,’ Brenda said, ‘when the storm struck.’

‘We tried to help by sending some passengers to St. Lucia thinking that St. Lucia would not have been affected as much as St. Vincent and the Grenadines and passengers could then leave from there once the storm had passed. We were wrong.’

St. Lucia too was affected by the passage of Ivan and those passengers later had to return to SVG. ‘It was hard,’ Telemaque admitted, ‘to see that there was nothing that could be done for the passengers. Some never traveled at all even though extra flights were put on.’

For a person whose philosophy is driven by the desire to ensure customer satisfaction, this was a very stressful period for Brenda. She admits that the passengers though frustrated and clearly upset, realized that there was little VAS could do in the circumstances. Passengers were offered a rebate although some have still not made use of this, she said.

Paying attention to customers’ needs especially when there are problems is a special area of attention for Telemaque.

‘I sometimes allow them to vent their frustration, during which time they say some very nasty things,’ she said, ‘but several have returned to say sorry the day after when their situation was resolved.’ ‘It’s just human,’ she accepts.

Brenda came to Vincy Aviation Services four years ago after working in the industry since 1990. Then, she worked with Air Martinique, Helen Air and the re-introduction of BWEE service to SVG.

Brenda who hails from the southern Grenadine island of Canouan knows what it is like to be treated as the under dog.

When asked what she considered the weakest link in VAS’ provision of excellent customer service, Telemaque admitted that follow-up for missing baggage was the weakest link.

‘If I am dealing with a customer with a missing bag, I say to myself, I have to find that bag,’ Telemaque said. ‘I understand what it means to have a missing bag especially at a time like Christmas when persons want to share the Christmas cheer and have purchased goodies to make friends and family happy.’

To this end, Telemaque said, ‘if I have to call every single station, speaking to the key persons, I would. Many times no one responds to your messages but if you pick up the phone you often get results more quickly.’

Giving a little glimpse into the inner workings of how problems are handled, the operations manager said there is a reporting structure which allows senior management such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chairman etc., to see what problems existed at the station the previous day. Where problems are identified they are reviewed and dealt with at the management meeting of that day.

‘Since joining the operations four years ago, I have seen a tripling of the number of passengers but by and large we get our planes off on time most times.’

In her view, passengers have not reacted to the Prime Minister’s consistent criticism of Caribbean Star and conversely she added that there are several government ministers who show a preference to traveling with Caribbean Star.

Brenda is proud of the way Vincy Aviation Services has grown as evidenced by the number of services they now offer which include handling private jets.

She is convinced that they are not done yet because, she said, ‘everyday Mr. Drayton is thinking up something new.’

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