Airport Technology Reports – Innovations in Aviation Customer Experience and Satisfaction Solutions

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Innovations in Aviation Customer Experience and Satisfaction Solutions The Airport Experience and Passenger Satisfaction Keeping Passengers Happy in the 21st Century Why Customer Experience Matters The Secret to Happiness: How to Monitor Satisfaction How the Aviation Industry is Changing the Way It Measures Happiness

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Published by Global Business Media


Innovations in Aviation Customer Experience and Satisfaction Solutions The Airport Experience and Passenger Satisfaction Keeping Passengers Happy in the 21st Century



Why Customer Experience Matters The Secret to Happiness: How to Monitor Satisfaction How the Aviation Industry is Changing the Way It Measures Happiness



Tom Cropper, Editor

The Airport Experience and Passenger Satisfaction


Stephanie Levy, Marketing Communications and PR Manager, HappyOrNot

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Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: Website: Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks

Airport Revenues: The Nitty-Gritty Why Passenger Satisfaction Matters Passenger Experience Focused Strategy Investing in Experience Improvement Passenger Satisfaction: The Golden Ticket to Higher Revenue Data Collection Made Easy Feedback Without Disruption Reliable Data for Evaluating Services Know Where to Focus Creating a Great Airport Experience

Keeping Passengers Happy in the 21st Century 7 of Airport Security Tom Cropper, Editor

Editor Tom Cropper

Coping with Stress The Route to Happiness Putting Things Right

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks

Why Customer Experience Matters

Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

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Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Customer Satisfaction Times are Changing Driving Revenue The Secret to a Happy Passenger

The Secret to Happiness: How to Monitor Satisfaction 11 James Butler, Staff Writer

A Complex Issue Visualizing Customer Sentiment Seeing Your Results

How the Aviation Industry is Changing the Way It Measures Happiness


Tom Cropper, Editor

Why Survey Customers? Flaws in the System The Next Generation Results in Real Time

References 15



Foreword H

ERE’S A question: Do you think air travel

Elsewhere, in this Report, we look at this technology

is getting better or worse? While statistics

and the advantages it has over conventional survey

suggest the former, most of us tend to believe the

mechanisms. We see airports analyzing data to

latter. Understanding the reasons why is crucial for

examine when and where spikes in dissatisfaction

any company working in aviation.

occur, allowing them to drill down into the detail of

Airlines and airports have always sought customer

what the information is telling them.

feedback but making sure it is useful has always

Jo Roth looks at the evolving customer service

been a problem. Ideally, you want a large data

market. Aviation has not always been the most

grouping taken as close to the experience as possible,

proactive at managing customer satisfaction, but that

but that would mean interrupting people who are

is beginning to change. He examines the business

already in a rush.

case for focusing on all customers – not just the

Email surveys are ubiquitous – indeed, they often

highest paying.

arrive in your mailbox before you’ve even arrived

James Butler then looks at the key issues companies

home. However, these suffer from a low open rate and

must consider when managing customer service.

a time delay. The drive now is to develop a seamless,

Digital technology heightens the emphasis on

high capture form of customer feedback which is in

good customer service, but it can also help companies

the moment.

engage more directly with their customers. The aviation

Our opening article comes from one of these

sector can use new technology to improve the value

developers. HappyOrNot uses friendly, intuitive

of the data it gathers and so provide a better service.

and familiar graphics to capture sentiment

All in all, this fits with a trend in which companies

quickly. Passengers have a choice of four different

are using big data to shed new light on operations.

emoticons to express their happiness – or otherwise

As with any other sector, success will depend on the

– with a service.

way in which they use it.

This data can feed into a central system allowing the collection of instant feedback and, in some cases, remedy the situation.

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.



The Airport Experience and Passenger Satisfaction Stephanie Levy, Marketing Communications and PR Manager, HappyOrNot The best trips start and end with great travel experiences. So how can airport operators be sure that they offer their passengers the best in-airport experience? They need to ask.


Airport Revenues: The Nitty-Gritty

Nearly four billion passengersa travel through airports worldwide each year, enroute to their destination, be it departures for vacation, business, or personal, and homeward journeys. According to Airports Council International (ACI), global non-aeronautical revenuesb continue to constitute 40% of global airport revenues, reaching an industry value of US$60.4bn. Retail concessions (27%) and car parking (23%) alone represent half of this portion, and property/ real estate revenue / rent, rental cars, and food and beverage combine to make up nearly 80% of the full non-aeronautical revenues. Because this source of revenue tends to generate higher net profit margins for airports, with so much (potential) revenue at stake, it’s imperative that airport operators employ strategic measures to ensure that, when passengers enter their airport, they are happy, relaxed, and prompted to spend.

Why Passenger Satisfaction Matters There are so many factors in the operation of an airport that contribute to its overall success: How friendly were the security staff? How was the check-in experience? Was the restroom clean? Was your bag delivered on time? How was your shopping experience? In times of tight schedules, understaffing and social media, airport operators desperately need to know whether the services they provide are giving their passengers a good or bad experience. Whether an airport ranks high or low in passenger satisfaction is a clear indicator of its process efficiency. A happy passenger signals a smooth, pleasant experience. An unhappy passenger, quite the opposite. But how can you know the causes of dissatisfaction? It must be measured. Understanding your passenger satisfaction levels in all key areas of airport operations provides essential information for better decision making and improving the WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 3


Whether an airport ranks high or low in passenger satisfaction is a clear indicator of its process efficiency. A happy passenger signals a smooth, pleasant experience. An unhappy passenger, quite the opposite


experience. If you don’t uncover and address what makes your passengers unhappy, not only could you lose them – and money – your reputation and subsequent competitiveness can suffer. It’s important to understand why passenger satisfaction matters, and why you should be measuring it everywhere, every day.

Passenger Experience Focused Strategy Employing a passenger experience focused strategy should be of utmost importance for an airport which wishes to be successful. Without travelers, there would be no demand for the airport, so airport operators need to recognize the benefits of measuring and improving passenger satisfaction, some of which include: l Competitive advantage – especially true for cities or states where there are more than one airport fom which travelers can choose to fly. A successful passenger experience focused strategy becomes a strong differentiating factor in airport selection. l Reputation – a good reputation not only attracts travelers to fly through your airport, but also the provides much needed revenue sources such as airlines, retailers, and other operators. l Employees – It improves the team spirit and adds local responsibility taking. Employees love it and cannot wait for the reports to see their results against those of rivals and to see how they did and how their new ideas worked! l Concessions – Airports all over the world are striving to generate more concession 4 | WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

revenues. When passengers are happy, they spend more, providing airports with increased income from the increased profit of the concessionaire.

Investing in Experience Improvement Airport operations are made up of a large network of stakeholders from varying service types, such as airlines, retail, food and beverage, and concessions providers, airport management and staff (private or government regulated), cleaning and other outsourced services. As a whole, these service providers combine to create the overall airport experience that will be received by visiting travelers. Whether the service providers are performing at a level which contributes to passenger satisfaction cannot be known without continuously measuring their satisfaction levels. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and you can’t improve when you don’t know. Measuring the airport experience not only helps management and the board to assure that the company performance is at a desired level across the organization, but also to validate the success of activities such as change projects, mergers, or the implementation of new processes and procedures.

Passenger Satisfaction: The Golden Ticket to Higher Revenue Travelers are more likely to loosen their wallets if they’re having a positive experience, and spend 45% morec. This means that airports benefit greatly from an increase in passenger happiness,


as the rent of concessions and retail are tied to gross sales. Imagine the impact of the negative chain reaction of a passenger’s bad experience during security – the ‘gateway’ to non-aeronautical revenue. They exit the checkpoint in an upset mindset and any intent or interest in shopping has been snuffed out. Best case scenario: they don’t make any purchases and only that potential revenue is lost. Worst case scenario: they take their upset to social media or online for millions of people (potential travel customers) to see, damaging the airport’s reputation. Measuring and maintaining high levels of passenger satisfaction at the critical points of the travel experience is crucial to maintaining a good reputation, as a bad reputation will cause airports to lose revenue sources (airlines, retailers and other operators renting their space).

Data Collection Made Easy The HappyOrNot service helps airports improve the overall airport experience by providing a barrier-free feedback collection system with instant access to passenger satisfaction data. The data is not only robust, but easy-to-understand and validate. The sentiment of your visitors is captured at the exact time and moment of experience and results are made ready for review immediately (online or via mobile), not next quarter, month, or even week when it’s too late. In addition to the ease-of-use and ‘always on’ accessibility, the data is comparative across all touchpoints. Not only is measuring the performance of all non-aeronautical service operators made possible, but also benchmarking airport operations to other airports on a domestic or even international level.

Feedback Without Disruption The seamless flow of passengers through airports is an unquestionable measurement of operational

efficiency, but unfortunately places heavy limitation on the ability to solicit passenger feedback. In order for airports to collect the needed passenger satisfaction feedback, the survey method must be in the moment of experience, take mere seconds to respond, and cause absolutely no disruption to the flow of passengers. When giving feedback is made intuitive, quick, and easy, not only does this prevent bottlenecks but it significantly increases the participation rates, producing much higher volumes of feedback data, which underpins its reliability and credibility.

Reliable Data for Evaluating Services Regardless of the airport size or location, each management team has a vested interest in evaluating the quality of services for which they pay, knowing the performance of staff, and having access to comparison data for all of its non-aeronautical assets. To measure how well the performance of each fares in terms of passenger satisfaction is an excellent metric of their success. Instant access to your passenger satisfaction data allows you to monitor service level trends over the hour, week, month, and year of each area you measure. When you can look at your performance with certainty and pinpoint exact places and times of dips in satisfaction, you can be confident in making changes that your visitors will value. With the passenger feedback data results, you can raise staff awareness on their interactions with passengers and how this can impact the airport experience (and revenues), as well as use it to demonstrate to your visitors that your airport cares about their experiences and values their feedback.

Know Where to Focus Globally, according to Nigel Dolby, a commercial consultant to the airport industry, the average time spent at an airport – from arrival until an aircraft’s




HappyOrNot passenger satisfaction reporting is a vital tool in creating a great airport experience for your travelers

doors are closed – was 133 minutesd in 2016, with the time available to shop or eat only about 30 minutes. With such a short amount of average dwell time, airports need to know exactly when and where passengers face dissatisfaction to minimize the impact to the overall airport experience. The immediate access to hourly feedback results at each of the key operational areas that HappyOrNot enables, means that airports can identify pain points and target corrective actions exactly where and when needed.

Creating a Great Airport Experience HappyOrNot passenger satisfaction reporting is a vital tool in creating a great airport experience for your travelers. Continuous monitoring of operational performance and quality of services provided, as perceived by the passengers, supports targeted improvements and the maintenance of a healthy balance that is crucial for success.

A savvy explanation of the balance of priorities is presented by DKMAe in a 3-tier system: Basics (restrooms, cleanliness, atmosphere), Key processes (check-in, ticket offices, baggage claims, passport control, security screenings, employee service quality, etc.), and Commercial services (restaurants, duty free, retail stores, parking, Wifi, lounges, etc.). If you can achieve satisfaction with, at minimum, the basics, you’re sitting well. However, the complexity of coordinating and overseeing the performance of the array of processes and commercial services calls for constant measurement and analysis of passenger feedback data. Passenger satisfaction data is the overarching measure that connects each part of your airport operations to show the complete experience. If your passengers are voting happy with all of your services, you can be sure that you are performing well.

References: a. b. c. d. e.



Keeping Passengers Happy in the 21st Century Tom Cropper, Editor Airports face enormous pressures, so how can they keep passengers happy in a world of rising numbers and increased security?


HERE ARE times when travelling by air feels like an ordeal. Lengthy queues, intrusive security checks and unfriendly staff – it all adds up to an experience which can be intensely unpleasant. While we might have expected air travel to become easier and more convenient, the process of passing through an airport terminal feels anything but.

Coping with Stress Air travel has become incredibly stressful. One study of the physiological impact of passing through an airport put the impact on a par with fighter pilots or riot police . Why? Well, that seems to be harder to pin down. Indeed, one theory states that this is all a cunning plan on the part of the airport. The theory goes that airports are designed to stress you out. You’re supposed to be worried that you won’t make your flight on time, or that your name will be read out on the tannoy, or that you’ll be publicly shamed as security guards rifle through your belongings . If you weren’t stressed, you would dawdle, and that creates a big problem for airlines who need to hurry thousands of people through its terminal every hour. The numbers are certainly intimidating. IATA’s long-term passenger forecasts predict the number of people travelling by air worldwide to double over the next 20 years. By 2036 they believe 7.8bn people could be taking to the skies annually. Airports are already stretched and with their ability to improve infrastructure constrained by planning permission, finances, time and politics, they have no choice but to make do with what they have. At the same time, the authorities are placing greater demands on them to improve security processes. Every attack or attempted attack adds new layers of security. Passengers must now remove belts, shoes, liquids and laptops before they pass through security. Even then, bags are closely monitored, which makes the entire process stressful and time consuming.

Fresh measures are being introduced constantly. In the US, a report which found that airport security missed 95% of objects prompted a move to more intensive pat-downs – something which angered many passengers . The ‘Don’t Touch my Junk’ campaign represented a backlash from people who felt these new searches were altogether too personal . Airports are trying to address the situation but, for every innovation they bring in, authorities introduce more measures. Furthermore, innovations have not always had the desired outcome. The introduction of full body scanners used enhanced technology to scan people as they passed through the gate. However, problems soon emerged when it produced nearly-naked images which left little to the imagination. In Germany, protesters registered their dissatisfaction at full body scanners by stripping off . The demonstration was organized by members of the Pirate Party who marched through terminals handing out leaflets to passers-by. Security measures are not just there to please the authorities, of course. They also reassure passengers. People are happy to sacrifice time and energy passing through security if they feel that it will enhance their safety. What they will not like are measures which are intrusive and which they believe don’t work.

The Route to Happiness Airports, then, face an unenviable challenge. They must meet the increase in passenger numbers, higher threat levels and regulatory requirements while still making improvements. When viewed through this lens, much of their progress has been remarkable. Despite increasing workloads, airports have dramatically reduced the number of bags that go missing. Official data reports that the number of lost bags is now close to two million, or 5.73 bags per thousand passengers. It was a reduction of 12.25% over the previous year and a new record low. SITA attributes the good news to the role of technology. Traceability has improved, with many WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 7


Airports are already stretched and with their ability to improve infrastructure constrained by planning permission, finances, time and politics, they have no choice but to make do with what they have


airports now offering passengers the opportunity to track the progress of their bags via RFID signals . On time performance has improved. Air travel is safer, and operators have increased their operational capacity without impacting safety. Airports now often offer high speed internet, and the ability to stream your favorite shows on Netflix. Retail areas offer everything you could want while you wait for your flight. Even so, the public perception sees airports as getting worse, rather than better as one Guardian article puts it, airlines are charging more for luggage, headroom is shrinking, and more people are being crammed into less space. As Dave Schilling writes, “I’d rather be rolled down a hill in a tyre than travel during Christmas .” The problem is that expectations have grown. Throughout our lives we’re used to comfort and convenience. Any show we want is available at the touch of a button. If we’re hungry we can get food delivered to our door. Life requires less effort, so when we gear ourselves up for air travel it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and feel that the experience is a lot more uncomfortable than it used to be. The gap between air travel and what we experience in our daily lives has grown.


Putting Things Right So how do airlines address this problem? That’s the focus of the rest of this Report. The short answer is they need to know what makes customers tick. Stress and dissatisfaction stems from many different avenues. It might be the appearance of the airport, it could be delays or not being given enough information or it might be unfriendly staff or processes which feel too complex or invasive. This is why airports are investing in more customer satisfaction measurement systems. But be careful because that in itself can be a source of stress. Imagine emerging from a flight tired, delayed and stressed only to be greeted by a customer service representative, asking ‘how was your flight’. They need to find a way to ask the right questions and do so in way which does not anger customers. From there it’s a question of gathering the data, analyzing it and turning it into affirmative action on the ground. The rewards will come via passengers who are less stressed, more satisfied and in a better mood to spend money.


Why Customer Experience Matters Jo Roth, Staff Writer Airports are investing heavily in customer service, but how can they improve and what measures should they monitor?


HE AVIATION industry is no stranger to negative sentiment. That does not come as news to anyone who works in the industry; it has come to be an accepted part of life. For a range of reasons people are much less accepting of poor customer service here than elsewhere. What is changing is that airports and airlines are investing more time, money and effort into improving matters. They are monitoring customer satisfaction, taking feedback and implementing changes. The question I’ll pose in this article is: why?

Customer Satisfaction Normally the answer would appear to be obvious. Happy customers equal higher profits. But that has not always been the attitude in the aviation industry. For many years the sense prevailed that they didn’t need to worry about whether customers were happy, angry or somewhere in between. People wanted to travel, and they needed the airport to help them do so. Whether or not the experience was pleasant did not necessarily matter. They were a captive market. Some would argue the attitude still prevails – at least concerning certain passengers. Writing in The Atlantic, Kaveh Waddell questioned why airlines are seemingly permitted to treat the majority of its passengers so badly. He painted the picture of someone having to wait in line for the economy pump at a petrol station while the premium pump stands idle or not being able to approach the organic isle in a super market because he doesn’t have enough loyalty points. “This beleaguered consumer lives in an alternate reality where businesses can discriminate between their high-value and low-value clientele at will, enticing the biggest spenders to stay while marginalizing bargain hunters and coupon cutters,” he writes. “Most companies couldn’t get away with triaging their customers this way. But some already do: airlines .”

Times are Changing However, the signs are that this attitude may soon become a thing of the past. Airlines and airports are discovering that they can’t treat passengers in this way without some form of retribution. In 2017, Dr David Dao was travelling on a United Airlines Flight when he was asked to give up his seat for staff from a partner airline. He refused, causing the airline to remove him forcibly from the aircraft, injuring him in the process. The image of his bloodied face quickly circulated on social media resulting in a major PR catastrophe for the airline. United Airlines eventually accepted full responsibility and settled the case for an undisclosed sum . So, why did the case create such a problem? It comes down to two words: ‘social media’. What would have once been an isolated incident on a flight was headline news the next day. Social media amplifies the customer experience like never before and that shifts the power dynamic. Today’s passengers are also a whole lot less captive than they used to be. Today, most passengers have a choice of international airports and are willing to make their selection based on their expected experience. For example, let’s imagine you want to go fly to France and have a choice of Gatwick, Heathrow or Stansted. You’re likely to disregard one if you’ve always had a poor experience. Equally, if one has given you a good experience then you’ll go out of your way to make sure you depart and arrive from there. At the same time, there is plenty of evidence to that suggest a satisfied customer will spend more once in the airport. Figures suggest that the majority of airports around the world lose money . Aviation has the curious distinction of being an industry which has seen consistently rising demand over decades, but which has seen fares drop. The era of cheap flights has made aviation incredibly popular, but financially unsustainable.



Imagine you want to go fly to France and have a choice of Gatwick, Heathrow or Stansted. You’re likely to disregard one if you’ve always had a poor experience. Equally, if one has given you a good experience then you’ll go out of your way to make sure


you depart and arrive from there

Driving Revenue As a result, airports are moving to other areas such as parking, retail and added value services to drive customer revenue. Here, profit margins are higher, which means the size of retail areas within airports is growing. Even so, they are struggling to maximize the potential. A combination of low quality shops, poorly designed layouts and lengthening waiting times suppresses revenue. The key is customer experience. By processing passengers more quickly, an airport can increase the amount of time they spend in profitable revenue generating environments such as the shops, rather than at the security check-in. Less time at check-in also translates to a happier passenger. According to John Jarrell, Head of Airport IT at Amadeus Group, satisfied customers are likely to spend 45% more at the airport . Therefore, not only do passengers return to an airport, but they will spend more in the higher profit margin areas.

The Secret to a Happy Passenger The value of customer satisfaction is not in doubt. The question is: what really impacts customer experience and how can it be improved? This is an issue which can be surprisingly complicated. Even attempts to improve passenger experience can backfire. Airlines face a stick and carrot situation. On the one hand they can now be punished for poor customer service. Passengers at all levels can make their dissatisfaction public and can choose to take their business elsewhere. On the other, those who get customer service right see a resultant impact on their bottomline performance. A happy customer, then, is a valuable commodity. The question now must be how happiness levels be monitored accurately to enable decisions to be taken on what changes to make? As our next article illustrates, that is more difficult than you might think.

Today’s passengers are also a whole lot less captive than they used to be. Today, most passengers have a choice of international airports and are willing to make their selection based on their expected experience



The Secret to Happiness: How to Monitor Satisfaction By James Butler, Staff Writer The aviation industry is investing heavily in customer satisfaction solutions, but the results are not always helpful or accurate.


OW DO you monitor your customer’s happiness? Simple: you ask them, which is why we’re all constantly barraged with ‘how did we do’ emails. If you’ve ever taken a flight, they might have beaten you home – but there’s a problem. All too often they ask the wrong questions and, in some cases, can create more frustration. The current model is flawed for a number of reasons: 1. I t takes time: A company needs feedback as soon as possible. Email responses will be time-delayed. 2. R esponse rates are poor: As a rule, we don’t like spam, so average open rates are poor. The sample size is also likely to be less than optimal. People are more likely to take the time to answer a questionnaire if their experience has either been very good or very bad. This overlooks the silent majority in the middle. 3. P oor quality data: Partly as a result, data quality can be poor or incomplete. Companies ask the wrong questions, which may mean they miss the real underlying cause of dissatisfaction. That last point is particularly important because customers may not always articulate the real reasons behind their unhappiness. Obvious issues might be all too apparent, such as delays, queues, overcrowding, poor food, a lack of entertainment or high prices, but studies suggest the cause of customer unhappiness can often be subtler.

A Complex Issue This lack of understanding can cause a company to overlook certain issues and attempts to improve customer service can actually backfire. Writing on the American Marketing Association website, Sarah Steimer highlights a story from Wharton School Marketing Professor, Peter Fader, who flies often. This frequent flyer status means he regularly enjoys the experience of flying first class. However, when flying with his family he was placed in Economy. The airline must have analyzed his change in seating pattern and triggered an alert. Once all

the passengers were seated he got a visit from one of the pilots who made a point of telling him what a valued customer he was. “We know that you usually fly first class with us, and deservedly so,” Fader recalls the pilot saying. “But we appreciate having your whole family with you and want to make your flight as special as possible, despite being in coach .” He felt embarrassed and wondered what his fellow economy passengers must have felt at seeing him singled out for special treatment. Indeed, research suggests they might not have been happy at all. A study by Katherine DeCelles from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and Michael Norton of the Harvard Business School found that the first-class cabin could be a source of air rage . Their study found that an aircraft with a first class cabin was four times more likely to experience an incident of air rage than one without. Aircraft can become mini microcosms of the classbased society in which people are divided clearly into the haves and the have nots. First class passengers receive a visibly better treatment, something not made any better if the aircraft’s design forces you to walk through the first-class cabin in order to get to your seat. The lesson of this story is that customer satisfaction doesn’t work in the way many people think. Providing good customer service to one passenger can alienate others if the treatment is unequal or unfair. It warps expectation levels. If you are sat in Economy, you might be happy with the service until you see someone else being given special treatment. Likewise, waiting in a queue feels longer if you don’t know when it will end. If you have an estimated waiting time, at least you have an end target in mind. You can make plans and you’ll have a good idea whether or not you’re going to make your flight.

Visualizing Customer Sentiment So how do you capture this underlying sentiment? The answer lies in technology. The digitization of WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 11


Most companies will maintain a social media presence of some kind. They may use it to promote special offers, or to inform people about any developments or issues the company is facing


our society leads to a number of new trends which can enhance customer interaction. The first is the rise of social media. Most companies will maintain a social media presence of some kind. They may use it to promote special offers, or to inform people about any developments or issues the company is facing. But the real value lies in monitoring customer satisfaction levels. From a customer service perspective, social media is both an opportunity and a threat. It’s a threat because of its ability to amplify negative sentiment. We are digital beings and, when we have a bad experience, we often share it online. Many companies fear the impact of a bad social media review, but it can also be an opportunity. Monitoring online complaints is a good opportunity to see how a brand is perceived and where weaknesses lie. If a pattern of complaints emerges, operators will be able to view it and remedy it. They can also respond to issues which arise, turning negative publicity into positive. If people can see the action you have taken to remedy a situation they will feel more confident about the company in general. Deft handling of a situation on social media can even be turned into a positive news story. Take the example of how British Airways responded to a customer who complained on Twitter about the length of time he was kept on hold. Travel journalist David Whitley tweeted: “Just out of interest, when was the last time you weren’t experiencing high call volume.” Rather than issue a bland customer service response, someone on the British Airways Twitter staff replied: “Hey David, off the top of my head it was about


3rd June 1997. Seriously, though, is there something we can help with?” It was funny, helpful and defused the situation very effectively. The tweet went viral and even David seemed happy, replying “fair enough. ”

Seeing Your Results There are many tools to allow firms to monitor their standing on Twitter. Mentionmap , for example allows companies to build a map of users and mentions based on a hashtag. Reputology , meanwhile, is a paid service which allows you to manage your online customer service. It provides a detailed report of customer feedback and helps you respond quickly to any issues. The second trend is the rise of mobile technology. The use of smartphones and tablets makes people reachable at most points in their journey. Simply ‘how did we do’ apps can generate feedback while people are having the experience. Airports are also employing digital terminals using quick and simple surveys to register happiness levels. This all creates a real-time map of customer happiness. Data can be harvested and analyzed to see where in the journey people are most content, and where they are unhappy. Taken together with other options, this enables companies to drill down and understand what is really driving customer sentiment. As so often is the case, technology is changing the game. It deepens the relationship between user and supplier. When used correctly it can work to the benefit of everyone. Customers get better service and companies can drive up their revenue.


How the Aviation Industry is Changing the Way It Measures Happiness By Tom Cropper, Editor Airlines are embracing technology to improve the value of their customer satisfaction surveys.


AVE YOU ever got home from a flight to find that a customer satisfaction survey has already beaten you to it? If so, you’re not alone because airlines and airports have become much more aggressive in engaging with their customers. What’s more, technology is enabling them to do so on a much grander scale and to gain more meaningful insights. The question many people ask is why must they fill out these surveys and will it make any difference?

Why Survey Customers? The resounding answer to that is ‘yes’. Even small complaints can lead to significant differences. Airlines have responded to customer concerns about the quality of WiFi on aircraft by increasing their coverage. Cathay Pacific selected Gogo’s satellite-based 2Ku inflight connectivity for its Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft – the service is scheduled to go live in the middle of 2018 . Netflix, meanwhile, has sought to make it easier to offer video streaming services by partnering with airlines to offer its mobile technology . Customer satisfaction surveys matter and they shape the final experience that the passenger receives. However, traditional approaches are full of inefficiencies. Data is delivered too late to be of use to the airlines and insights can be inadequate, which is why they are changing the way they approach the task. It was only a few years ago that airlines were using paper-based surveys. These had low return rates and involved considerable time and cost to obtain a large enough sample. The internet allowed airlines to reach each of their customers, and gain a much wider range of feedback – but even this is limited.

Flaws in the System The open rate of email marketing is extremely

low. Companies are only likely to gain a limited snapshot of the customer experience. If you had a particularly good or bad experience, you are more likely to invest the time to provide feedback. The majority of other customers may have valuable insights to share, but they do not feel strongly enough to contribute. Using email surveys can also create ill feeling. All of us are inundated with spam. If we’ve had a poor experience with an airline and the first thing we see when we arrive home is an email entitled ‘how did we do’ our frustration levels will increase. Open rates will be low; many emails will be filtered out as spam. The other drawback of email surveys is the time delay. For best results, operators need to capture passengers’ attitudes at the moment they are having their experience. However, paperbased surveys will disrupt the flow of passengers to and from the aircraft and risk causing more frustration. A system is needed which is of the moment, accurate and does not disrupt the flow of movement.

The Next Generation Technology offers a less intrusive and more impactful means of measuring happiness through systems such as ‘HappyOrNot’. This is a quick, digital feedback mechanism which can be undertaken within a few seconds. Customers can select from four emoticons – very happy, quite happy, dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. All this can be fed quickly into a data management system for real-time analytics of customer feedback. Airports can tell when and where passengers are at their happiest, what’s behind their issues and how they can improve. Like many technological innovations, HappyOrNot came from a real-life experience. Finnish inventor Heikki Väänänen became frustrated with the customer service he received at a local gaming store. Unhappy that he had WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 13


Technology offers a less intrusive and more impactful means of measuring happiness through systems such as ‘HappyOrNot’


no way of expressing his displeasure, he began work on a new system which would let customers quickly and instantly register their emotions . The data from the HappyOrNot buttons is transmitted instantly to a web-based analysis system where airports can see graphs representing the levels of passenger happiness. As the Sun reported, this leads to some interesting revelations. Using this data, it was possible to see which airports had the best customer satisfaction and at what time of the day passengers were likely to be at their most content . The data revealed that the middle of the week was the happiest time to travel – Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – while the weekend could become stressful and unpleasant.

Results in Real Time HappyOrNot allows airports to get real time tracking of a problem, so they can remedy it. For example, if the toilets are in a bad state, this could register itself through a spike in the number of people hitting the ‘very unhappy’ button. A cleaning team can then be dispatched to remedy the problem.


Using data about passenger happiness over time can help identify problem areas, direct resources as appropriate and adjust forward planning. For example, if data indicates that Friday evenings are particularly problematic, staffing levels can be increased or adjusted accordingly. The makers of HappyorNot also argue that the presence of the terminals makes passengers feel empowered and listened to, which brings us back to the story of our doctor and economy class passengers who feel marginalized. If they can see that attempts are being made to monitor their satisfaction, they will feel more valued and listened to. This translates to a wider sense of satisfaction with an airport. If we enter a situation with a negative opinion of a service, minor mishaps will be magnified in our minds. We’re more likely to make a complaint or register our dissatisfaction via social media. So, as the aviation market seeks to improve its poor customer service record, technology may hold the key. It helps to improve resolution of problems, promotes a sense of belonging to a passenger and prevents minor issues escalating into major complaints.


References: 1

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Don’t Touch my Junk:

German Protestors Strip off in Protest at Full Body Scanners: 7


SITA Lost Baggage Report:


Think Air Travel Can’t Get Any Worse? Think Again:

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Dr Dragged off United Airlines Flight Reaches Settlement:


Airport Profits Ready to Depart:


Happy Passengers Spend More:


How Airlines Get Customer Experience so Wrong Despite so Much Data:



Physical and Situational Inequality Predicts Air Rage:

British Airways Just Gave the Best Response:







Cathay Pacific Selects Gogo:

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Are Your Employees Happy or Not?


The World’s Happiest Airports Have Been Revealed:





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