In recent years, there have been great improvements in passenger experience in the aviation industry; however, customers are still looking for better, more consistent experiences where they feel valued and important. Here are five areas we believe will drive a positive impact for the customer and which we recommend when committing to improving the passenger experience:
Focus on the whole journey
The customers’ journey actually begins before they arrive at the airport and continues after their flight has landed. Operators need to find ways to engage with the customer before and after they directly interact with them. Rethink how to deliver self-service and offer greater service variety; technology alone won’t improve travel experiences. What’s required is a coherent vision underpinned by a clear understanding of the passenger journey. Passengers expect their travel experience to be seamless, connected across channels, and personalised to them.
Act as one
There are multiple stakeholders involved in orchestrating a passenger’s travel experience, e.g., airline, handler, caterer, police, customs, immigration, retailers, etc. Most customers don’t know where the responsibility of one begins and ends. When something goes wrong, customers don’t want to track down the responsible party; they need the problem solved. Creating such boundaries between stakeholders opens up the opportunity for failure. Successful operators acknowledge the importance of establishing solid partnerships in order to deliver consistently good experiences for passengers and efficiencies in delivery.
Build a relationship
Operators should build relationships with their customers that go beyond Reward Programmes. Focus on meeting specific customer needs and forging a bond with them throughout the whole journey. When you invest in meeting customer needs that go beyond mere transactions, you place the emphasis on their lifetime value with you and the true value they bring to the business. The end goal is for you to become their preferred lifetime airport partner and a business they trust to deliver consistent levels of quality customer service.
View yourself as a provider of experiences
Indicators around safety and operational excellence should be seen as a given in the aviation industry. Away from this, however, it’s important to focus on the customers’ experience. Airport operators must not see themselves as people processors but as hospitality ones instead. If you shift the focus towards welcoming, entertaining, and supporting passengers (i.e., guests) – the service provision is transformed. Organisations also need to make the experience better for front-line staff too.
Transfer power to the customer
Operators must design experiences in such a way that customers can decide to engage with them to the degree they wish to. At one end of the spectrum, there are customers who travel with a mindset of comfort and luxury and therefore engage strongly with service providers. On the other end of the same spectrum are travellers who are looking for smooth, frill-free travel and do not wish to be bothered. Be sure to think about both types of customers when orchestrating experiences for your customers, leveraging human and not just digital touchpoints.