Being nice costs nothing, and pays dividends

Npower seem to have learnt nothing from its recent encounter with one unhappy customer


In another inspiring example of pure business acumen that must make us all wish that we had it in us to be chief executives, Michael O'Leary has made a shock announcement. Ryanair's profits have soared by 152 per cent, he says, since the company decided to stop being rude to its customers. Well, hallelujah and hold the front page: being nice to customers is good for business! Shout it from the rooftops, record it on a loop and play it instead of that infernal trumpet whenever you land a plane, please Mr O. Perhaps it will even catch on.

Ryanair's amazing discovery is the result of a year-long crusade codenamed "Always Getting Better", which was launched with an image of O'Leary hugging a puppy. The policy used to be: we can do anything, we're still making money. Then came two profit warnings... I wish they would reveal details of the meeting in which this sudden policy reversal was mooted. Did a nervous young employee stand in front of a white board and suggest that tricksy websites, threats to charge for toilet use, and calling customers "stupid" for forgetting to print their boarding passes might just be where Ryanair was going wrong? Did the whizz-bang plan of treating folk with respect come, I wonder, after an all-night brain-storming session with pizzas, or during a staff bonding away-day in Whitstable?

Either way, I wish someone would tell Npower, which seems to have learnt nothing from a recent encounter with one unhappy customer. Barry Payling was sick of being chased for money he did not owe, so he took the energy supplier to court demanding £450 for his wasted time. The judge found in his favour when Npower failed to turn up. So, after further harassment from Npower and another unattended court case, he sent bailiffs to its offices to recover £2,503. And what has Npower learned from the episode? "We made a payment to him in good time. If he had notified us that he had not received the payment it would not have been necessary for him to instruct enforcement officers," said a sulky statement. Npower, I think the word you're looking for is "sorry".

It will be interesting to see how Amazon responds to these two tales of how to run a business. Last week, a survey of US customers revealed their feelings about Amazon's bullying behaviour towards publishers, particularly Hachette. Thirty-nine per cent of respondents were aware of the stand-off, and 19 per cent of those were buying fewer books from Amazon as a result. "This is the first time we've measured consumer dissatisfaction with Amazon resulting in significant declines in purchase intent," said Peter Hildick-Smith of the Codex Group, which conducted the survey. I don't know whether this is connected, but the last time I called the Amazon press office, somebody actually answered. Readers: a first!

Customers, keep up the pressure. I feel a revolution coming on.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher, Full Time Role, Gillingham School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Prime Minister’s Questions: Yah Miliband versus Boo Cameron

John Rentoul
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella  

Zoella is a great role model - she changed my life

Vicky Chandler
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London