Across the industry, there’s a lot of contention at the moment between airline labor groups and management. Many airline labor groups are frustrated by the current state of things, and are also looking to renegotiate their contracts, as the industry recovers.
Unions will take different approaches to get what they want, and I think something happening at United’s flight attendant union at the moment is noteworthy, and kind of hilarious. I first wrote about this last week, but the first “score” has now been released, and it’s rough.
United’s flight attendant promoter score metric
Airline management teams are generally obsessed with net promoter scores (NPS) as a metric of customer satisfaction. This allows airlines to measure how the sentiment among customers evolves over time, depending on service changes, etc.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents United Airlines flight attendants, is taking a page out of management’s playbook. The union is now establishing the concept of a flight attendant promoter score (FPS), intended to measure how happy flight attendants are with management at the Chicago-based airline.
Here’s how the union describes this concept:
As we all know, United has committed to providing exceptional customer service to their passengers. United regularly surveys and collects feedback on what areas they can improve upon to provide a better experience through their Net Promoter Score (NPS). United has made it very clear that this is one of the most important metrics they use and have invested a great deal of time and effort explaining to Flight Attendants all the different ways we can have a positive impact on United’s NPS score.
United also has another set of customers, aside from their passengers, that they have not yet solicited feedback from in the same comprehensive manner: United Flight Attendants. It’s just common sense that in order to provide a great experience to United passengers, those people providing the experience must feel valued and supported.
Being the problem solvers that we are, we thought we’d offer valuable insight on how management can improve this critical internal customer Flight Attendant experience. We are excited to announce our new Flight Attendant Promoter Score (FPS).
How this promoter score is measured
Every week, United Airlines flight attendants have the opportunity to fill out a survey, which will be used to update the current FPS. This is intended to give a strong visual indicator of where management has improved or what areas they need to continue working on.
Flight attendants have the opportunity to provide feedback on the following statements:
- I feel my contributions to our airline are valued
- I am able to trade my pairings/Reserve days with open time/pool
- I feel supported by management
- My contact with crew scheduling is timely and my issues are resolved
- Management is responsive to my needs during irregular operations
Flight attendants can rate management on a scale of 0-10, with zero meaning one is strongly disappointed, and 10 meaning that someone is highly satisfied:
- Flight attendants who rate 9-10 are seen as promoters
- Flight attendants who rate 7-8 are seen as neutral or passive
- Flight attendants who rate 0-6 are seen as detractors
The FPS is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. While this seems heavily weighted toward detractors, in fairness, this is the same formula that United uses when determining the net promoter score among customers.
The first net promoter score is -95%
The FPS will be updated each Friday, and the first results have now been published. So, what’s the initial score? -95%. Yep, you read that right, negative 95%. In other words, this could mean that 2.5% of flight attendants would be considered promoters, while 97.5% of flight attendants would be considered detractors (this excludes those who are neutral or passive, which could be a significant number, in theory).
It goes without saying that those are some really rough results, but it’s also kind of what I expected. I think it’s interesting that the survey will be conducted every week, because I don’t think we’ll see much movement with these numbers.
Airline employees generally have pretty strong opinions, so I can’t imagine that from one week to another many flight attendants will say “oh yeah, I didn’t like management last week, but this week I do.”
The union representing United Airlines flight attendants is now asking members to chime in weekly on how they think management is doing, in order to establish a flight attendant promoter score. The first score has been released, and it’s negative 95%, meaning that 2.5% of flight attendants would be considered promoters, while 97.5% of flight attendants would be considered detractors.
If you ask me, this concept is kind of genius. Why? Simply because I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a conversation with someone in airline management, and they justified something bad by claiming customers love it, based on the net promoter score (“no, everyone loves our turkey sandwiches and lobster rolls!”).
With this concept, at least there won’t be any confusion about how flight attendants feel about management.
What do you make of the flight attendant promoter score concept?