Tuesday 22 October 2013 8:41 pm

Brand Index: Ryanair is working hard to melt the hearts of UK flyers

ONE MONTH ago, Ryanair shocked the airline industry by revealing it was going to start being nicer to customers. Our research at the time found that, while French and German customers had a fairly dim view of the discount carrier, its reputation was worse in Britain.Well, one month into its new customer service strategy and the preliminary signs appear to show that – drumroll, please – it’s working. Ryanair’s UK Buzz score, which measures what consumers are hearing about the brand, is up five points, going from minus 33.6 to minus 28.7.This still means people are hearing more bad than good about Ryanair, but it is a big improvement, particularly in such a short period of time.Also, the number of British consumers who say they would consider flying Ryanair has risen from 13 per cent to 15 per cent. The percentage of people who say they will buy Ryanair tickets has also modestly increased, from 3.4 per cent to 4.4 per cent.While there are certainly some encouraging signs for the brand, it is still very far away from changing – in the words of bombastic chief executive Michael O’Leary – the “macho and abrupt culture” for which it is known.Part of the company’s new strategy has been to embrace social media. On Monday, O’Leary donned a green leprechaun hat and fake beard to take part in a live discussion on Twitter.According to our analysis, 16 per cent of UK users heard about the brand, up from just one per cent the day before. However, the activity was largely generated by media outlets with a high number of followers. And while the airline has improved its image in Britain, our data shows Ryanair’s warmer and fuzzier approach has yet to melt hearts in France and Germany.Stephan Shakespeare is the chief executive of YouGov