Turn Plain Passengers into Plane Promoters in Just 3 Steps
We live in a world in which customers are always connected, up to date, and truly “spoiled” with personalized offers and special treatment. Although these new characteristics present a challenge for the aviation industry, they’re also a blessing in disguise on the other hand. Thanks to customers’ new-found communicative capacity and the increasing exchange and availability of information, airlines have a much better chance of winning customers over by offering a better customer experience than competitors, subsequently resulting in a beneficial impact on market shares and overall profit. Let’s take a look on how to turn plain passengers into plane promoters in just 3 steps.
However, many airlines still store customer satisfaction data in silo-like fashion or fragment the data across varying software products and databases – a mistake which impedes improvement. Customer satisfaction surveys, even if they are conducted regularly, are also insufficient, as they only record certain events at certain times and not the entire variety and velocity of customer interactions.
Improving the customer experience from beginning to end should be less about offering customers everything and anything thinkable they could need for their trip, and much more about company-wide communication efforts, such as being reachable by customers on various channels.
Exceptional customer experience isn’t achieved through special deals on hotels, discounted prices for rental cars, or coupons for free drinks. Exceptional customer experience is achieved by truly caring about how your customers feel about your product and services. It’s achieved by listening to what customers want, what they like, and what they don’t.
Airline consolidators like Travelocity and Expedia are some of the most popular agents for booking flights today – first and foremost because consolidators enable customers to compare prices and weigh thousands of choices, giving consumers the rewarding feeling of making a well-informed decision. However, although the price is a crucial factor during the purchasing process, getting the most out of your buck isn’t as important as it used to be. In other words, airlines can sell tickets for as little money as they want, but if a customer links their logo to a poor experience they’ve had with that specific airline in the past, it won’t matter if the price is dirt cheap or not. Depending on the quality of the customer experience, logos can be very beneficial, but also very detrimental to an airline’s reputation.
Almost all airlines offers competitive prices, but only leading airlines offer a competitive customer experience. Which one would you want to fly on? Which one would you like to represent?
Step 1 – Put Various Touch Points to Use
Every single customer interaction at every single touch point should be tracked – continuously and indefinitely. Simply sending an endless survey to customers’ email addresses after their trip isn’t going to provide you with the kind of information you need – and most definitely not when you need it. Post-travel surveys deliver too little feedback much too late. In other words, before you’ve even been notified of a customer’s negative experience, too much time has passed for you to make it right and convince the customer to give you a second chance. The damage is done.
In order to avoid missing out on valuable chances to turn things around, more focus needs to be put on identifying all touch points along the customer journey and asking for feedback at every single one of them, enabling immediate and targeted reaction to touch point specific problems.
For example, an important topic in the airline industry for airlines and passengers alike is the quality of food offered on the plane. Measuring customer satisfaction with the current catering service is easy, and can be done by using the in-flight entertainment systems to collect feedback after the meal, but still during the flight.
Another touch point frequently used by passengers is the customer service hotline. Providing competent, professional, and quick customer care is extremely important for overall customer satisfaction. Call center employees can ask customers for their feedback via telephone, or a text message asking customers to rate the quality of their phone call can be sent after hanging up. There are many different possibilities – all of which are better than not collecting feedback at all.
Step 2 – Improving the Customer Experince is a Joint, Company-Wide Effort
The hierarchical collaboration technology in enterprise feedback management systems significantly simplifies the exchange of information between various departments and employees at various levels. The introduction of company-wide transparency can pose a large change in the way customer data is dealt with, especially when, as it is in many cases, only a handful of senior managers had access to customer data before the technology was implemented. Some managers are reluctant to adopting a transparent feedback management system because it enables CEOs and stakeholders to review customer satisfaction data at a glance, creating even more pressure on managers to perform better than ever before.
Making information readily available to more and more employees is a nerve-wracking process, but it’s also a necessary one. Improving the customer experience is a company-wide effort. Customer feedback shouldn’t be regarded as privileged information, but much rather used as a source for employee motivation in the entire company. Many airlines are still missing the point – the perceived damages that could occur due to the adoption of a comprehensive CEM solution are nothing compared to the damage unnerved passengers can inflict on a brand if they feel unheard.
Step 3 – Turning “Passenger Handling” into “Guest Experience Management”
Contrary to popular belief, the mere act of collecting and exchanging customer data isn’t the point of enterprise feedback management. The customer experience can only truly be improved when customer feedback is correctly processed and listened to. Simply put: the airline industry needs to start prioritizing and reacting more swiftly to customer inquiries and feedback.
Customers no longer have the status of just another number. They have feelings, emotions, ideas, and memories – all of which they openly discuss with their friends, family, and acquaintances. More importantly, due to the growing power of social networks and review sites, their opinions have a much more influential impact and a wider reach than ever before.
These developments make it unsurprising that for every single detractor, more than 5 promoters are needed to undo the damage a negative review, for example, inflicts on a brand.
In this day and age, passengers expect to be treated like the paying guests that they are, rather than “handled” like masses of goods. The days of passenger handling are long gone – or should be, at least. Airlines not only need to change their ways to achieve the positive outcomes, such as growing a loyal customer base and maintaining a healthy corporate image, but also to avoid the negative outcomes.
Achieving this is easy – with an enterprise feedback management system.
See also: Case study of Vietjet Air – Service excellence as key ingredient for success