Top 25 Most Customer-Centric Brands Impacting Lives in 2024

In every journey, whether in ascent or descent, KQ embodies the essence of aviation, where the passenger is not merely a traveller, but an esteemed participant in an extraordinary voyage and experience.

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KQ

In the vast expanse of the aviation industry, customers are not merely passengers; they are the pulsating heartbeat that propels the very essence of travel. This recognition has been the cornerstone of Kenya Airways’ (KQ) journey since its inaugural flight in January 1977. It is a commitment etched into the airline’s core, prioritising people, customers, the environment, and the society it serves.

As the conduit linking the world to Africa and vice versa, KQ steadfastly upholds a mission to drive impact and provide value in every facet of its operation. At the heart of this commitment lies an unwavering dedication to its customers, irrespective of the purpose behind their journey – be it for business, leisure, healthcare or education. The airline vows not just a service but an experience, a promise forged over the years through meticulous customer feedback and extensive research.

KQ has soared to become a trailblazer, a member of the esteemed SkyTeam Alliance, and a leading African airline connecting 44 destinations (growing to 46 this year) globally, with a significant footprint in 35 African cities. The accolades bestowed upon it, notably as Africa’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards in 2022, affirm its commitment to excellence.

Amidst its global endeavours, KQ retains its commitment to its greatest asset – its people. The airline invests deliberately in their development, ensuring they are equipped to serve customers with world-class standards, embodying the brand promise of a ‘Delightful experience with a caring African touch’.

It is a well-known fact that the global Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the aviation industry. It is also true that global geopolitics, especially the Russo-Ukrainian war, has redrawn a new aviation operational environment. Not to mention the many political conflicts in Africa that increase the cost of African carriers exponentially. The harsh economic turbulence is a third destabilising factor. In all these, Kenya Airways (KQ) has devised a strategic recovery plan code-named Project Kifaru I and II, to help the airline navigate out of these challenges, return to profitability, and start the ascent to new growth.

Project Kifaru I targets three main areas: operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, cultural transformation and personnel development.

Operational efficiency within KQ entails optimising fleet and routes, as well as enhancing On-Time Performance (OTP). In 2023, the airline maintained an average OTP of 77 percent for the year, closely rivalling the industry’s best-in-class average of 80 percent. Notably, during September’s peak season, the airline achieved an impressive OTP of 86 percent. As a result, KQ achieved its best efficiency performance in 2023, ranking second best in Africa and 38th globally, as reported by Cirium Aviation Analytics. KQ is on track to meet its internal target of 80 percent OTP by the end of 2024, reinforcing its dedication to customer satisfaction and service excellence.

Reducing delays is crucial for cost savings and improving the customer experience. While total elimination of delays is not feasible, enhancing operational efficiencies helps mitigate their impact, reducing costs associated with rebooking, compensation, and passenger care, as well as improving overall customer satisfaction.

Customer excellence is paramount, focusing on every touchpoint from booking to post-travel reflections. Initiatives such as an enhanced website for seamless booking, an improved customer query resolution system, and revamped onboard meal services featuring local flavours alongside international gourmet standards demonstrate KQ’s commitment to exceptional customer service. Moreover, the newly launched frequent flyer program, Asante Rewards, caters specifically to customers’ needs.

Recognising that satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers, KQ has reinstated previously disengaged staff affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and bolstered training programs to align with industry standards, ensuring career progression and job satisfaction. The airline’s efforts have contributed to operational profitability, setting the stage for the next phase of Project Kifaru.

The results of Project Kifaru are manifesting in multiple ways. In 2023, the company achieved numerous milestones: it emerged as the second most efficient airline in Africa, experienced its highest passenger uplift in history, recorded its highest turnover to date, and achieved operational profitability for the first time in seven years, generating a record KES 10.5 Billion in profit.

Project Kifaru II, deeply rooted in customer centricity, aims at strengthening KQ’s balance sheet and facilitating growth opportunities. By retiring legacy debts and expanding its footprint across Africa and beyond, KQ aims to meet the evolving needs and demands of its customers. Strategic partnerships with airlines like South African Airways (SAA) and investments in drone technology, maintenance, repairs, and overhauls (MRO) services, and ventures into healthcare and hospitality sectors through KQ Health and KQ Hotel, demonstrate the airline’s commitment to diversifying revenue streams to better serve its customers and improve the bottomline.

Furthermore, capital infusion to support technological innovation aligns with KQ’s digitalisation strategy, ensuring that the airline remains competitive and continues to provide innovative solutions that enhance the customer experience.

With an optimised fleet and a strengthened balance sheet, KQ is well-positioned to foster Africa’s economic growth by facilitating connectivity and innovation, ultimately benefiting its customers through improved services and expanded offerings.

Group Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Allan Kilavuka continues to navigate the corporation with this strategic vision. His leadership underscores an unwavering commitment to prioritising the customer, ensuring that their needs and experiences remain at the forefront of the airline’s operations.

With sustained emphasis on Project Kifaru and other complementary strategic endeavours, KQ is poised to achieve bottom-line profitability by the end of 2024, in harmony with its mission to foster Africa’s economic growth through seamless connectivity and innovation.

In every journey, whether in ascent or descent, KQ embodies the essence of aviation, where the passenger is not merely a traveller, but an esteemed participant in an extraordinary voyage and experience.

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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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