All of our customers have unique operations and unique needs. We consider it our job to understand those needs and factor them into the service we provide.
Charter operators, for example, tend to have higher utilization rates. One operator in Europe flies a trio of 7Xs about 1,000 hours a year each – double or triple the rate of some corporate operators. When they book a charter, often on short notice, tens of thousands of dollars in revenue are on the line – it’s not a good moment for an AOG situation to arise.
When it does, they rightfully expect a drop-everything response from Dassault Aviation so that the booked aircraft departs on schedule as promised. Such was the case last November when a call came into the Falcon Command Center in Mérignac. One of their 7X aircraft was down in Germany due to an intermittent APU electrical problem. The airplane had to be ready for a charter in 48 hours.
A second call from the operator immediately went to Laurent Saissi, Dassault Aviation’s regional Customer Service Manager. Laurent will tell you that effective AOG management begins with the groundwork that is laid at the outset of a customer relationship.
Laurent had previously coordinated important get-to-know-you meetings for this operator, including with a FalconCare expert and the head of the Falcon Command Center to review how the companies would work together in a possible AOG situation. Laurent checks in with the operator a few times a week by email and WhatsApp.
Because of the AOG, the operator began making plans to find alternative lift. But the preference was to use the 7X that was promised. Frequent status reports from Dassault are important to this charter company, which expects the Falcon Command Center to provide updates as often as every 30 minutes as the charter launch time approaches. It’s good to have a clear understanding of their expectations in order to avoid frustrating the customer through lack of communication.
In this instance, troubleshooting revealed that a wire in the bundle leading to the APU was likely cut between the baggage compartment and the aft service bay. It appeared that a new wire bundle was required and one was driven overnight from Paris. The Command Center also dispatched an expert engineer with Saissi to join the customer.
But replacing the entire bundle would have been time consuming and result in missing the takeoff time. The Command Center went back to the drawing board, consulting with Engineering and discussing alternatives with the customer. Further troubleshooting revealed that the installed wire bundle had an extra, unused cable that could be routed to the APU. Repairs began even as Engineering finalized the repair plan and had it approved.
Regular readers of this blog know I like to share success stories emphasizing initiative on the part of multiple team members.
But I think this story illustrates something else about Dassault’s approach to customer service. It isn’t magical; it’s simply the benefit of knowing your customers up front, before a time-critical event arises. It’s about understanding their expectations, and also about the customer understanding how Dassault Aviation is structured to respond to their needs. That eases the tension in critical situations and helps everyone respond better.
It also highlights the essential role of customer service representatives like Laurent, who often become an added member of a flight department’s team, adding expertise and personifying Dassault’s commitment to do Whatever it Takes.
Senior Vice President, Worldwide Falcon Customer Service & Service Center Network