Virgin Atlantic – Creating Chemistry

  • Learning and skills training
  • In-person product

Virgin Atlantic and the great Customer Service Experiment…

Virgin Atlantic is famous for their customer service. But customers aren’t always in love with them 100% of the time. In a competitive and low-margin world, they needed to stand out and get their customers buzzing again. 

The Challenge

Virgin Atlantic’s Customer Experience strategy is to become The Most Loved Travel Company. 

The results of their customer satisfaction surveys and the creation of new brand values gave them the impetus to do something different with their customer facing teams.  

The challenge was to create an innovative programme that would address customer feedback, roll out those new brand values (Think Red, Make Friends, Be Amazing) and improve employee engagement.  

The solution

We had to discover what was happening under the bonnet in their customer facing locations. We found that when people felt recognised and involved they felt better about their work, and this in turn showed up in how they dealt with customers. 

We needed to open people’s minds and capture their hearts. But most importantly it needed to work, and truly change behaviour.  Previous initiatives had not had the kind of impact they needed, so we had to dig a bit deeper.  Working with a science-based theme we looked at how we could enhance personal interactions or “human chemistry”.

Virgin Atlantic: woman in lab coat

We designed and built a “human science lab” to deliver a completely new, immersive, learning experience. Participants took part in an experiment, led on film by a fictional character, “Scientist Red”, to uncover the science of human connection and to learn some behavioural techniques.  Our team of coaches facilitated the programme, getting people involved in live experiments. Participants could see and experience the results of their learning at first hand.  

Making it work for Virgin Atlantic 

We developed creative content that was connected to Virgin’s new brand values and we adapted the experience for different roles and functions in their business. Everyone was given a bespoke “lab kit” – behavioural tools they could take back to work. Managers received extra training which gave them the ability to coach others.

To embed the learning, within 3 months of the training, our behaviour coaches, dressed as scientists, arrived at the team’s place of work unannounced.  They reminded them of their lab experience and delivered some in-the-moment, on-demand coaching.  In addition, customers were given the opportunity to recognise great service as they journeyed through the airport.  This recognition resulted in reward for the teams, generated great customer engagement and produced local success stories to use for internal communication.


In the three months after the Human Chemistry programme roll-out to Customer Relations and UK Airport teams, overall Customer Satisfaction rose significantly.

Customers noticed the difference in service behaviour, with all three key satisfaction measures showing positive results. 

“Scientist Red” is still used in communications and internal marketing, reminding people to keep on creating great chemistry. Virgin Atlantic colleagues now feel more valued, connected and empowered to make a difference through their work.