One of the greatest things about customer experience programmes is the portability of strategy through to activation from one sector to the next.
Whether it’s financial services where products are not tangible or airlines where everything is tangible the same customers are constant in both. They can even experience both sectors at the same time. This means their expectations of what one sector can deliver versus another are blurred beyond recognition. This means it’s getting harder to keep up and a real challenge to differentiate on experience.
So it’s fundamental to know what contributes to a successful customer journey; the moments of truth and deliver them brilliantly. So to know what brilliant looks like, you might be wise looking beyond your own sector. With that in mind these 5 examples from the airline sector may be of more interest to the financial services community more than anyone else!
There are many different factors that contribute to a successful airline journey which delivers satisfied passengers. From years of experience I have identified there are a few essential customer experience products that play a much greater role for in reducing anxiety, removing friction and adding value to the journey, than perhaps the industry sometimes realises. Delivered well these can drive those satisfied customers.
Beyond booking, the passenger’s journey experience starts the moment they step into the airport. Shortly after arriving, many frequent passengers require quick and easy check-in process. They do not want, nor have the time to spend a long time queuing in the traditional airline check-in counter.
This is time consuming and is contrary to many passengers’ needs. That is why, the Self-Check-in Machines (CUSS), are so vital to the overall customer experience. They do not only help passengers save time, but also allow the completion of the check-in procedures at their own pace, which makes the entire process stress-free.
Nowadays, passengers value being independent and they do not want staff assistance at the every step of their journey. Many airlines that have successfully incorporated the CUSS machines into their check-in area, have not only shortened the queues, but also significantly improved the overall customer experience.
It is often stressful, as many passengers queue up and want to board the plane all at once. Many passengers state that the boarding process is one of the most stressful and unpleasant parts of their journey. Therefore, an efficient and clear boarding system can not only improve the speed of the process but also improve the overall passenger experience.
There is no golden rule regarding boarding systems, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. Studies have shown, that well organized boarding system can speed up the boarding process significantly, resulting in a shorter turn-around times, which results in better utilization of the aircraft. Thus, by introducing efficient boarding system, airlines can not only eliminate passengers’ anxiety, resulting in improved journey experience, but also maximize profits.
Welcome on board
The welcome message from the captain is so important, because it does not only provide detailed flight information, but more importantly, it allows passengers to familiarise themselves with the captain and create a personal bond. After first-time passengers hear the captain’s voice, they tend to be calmer and more relaxed. Good Cockpit communications can also save lives.
During a famous incident over Indonesia in the 1980s, when a 747 lost its 4 engines due to volcanic ash, the captain said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.” His candid message prevented a panic on board the aircraft. Therefore, captain PA cannot be understated and should be always a vital part of every flight. As in any other industry, in aviation as well, communication with the customer is the key. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”
Similarly to a hotel, where passengers expect to find the essential washroom amenities in their rooms, airplane passengers (beyond economy) are increasingly demanding comparable services. Most airlines now offer amenity kits in Business class, which became a standard premium product.
However, Economy class passengers’ needs are still being neglected. An eye mask, toothbrush, and socks can not only provide much needed comfort on a long-haul flight, but also significantly improve customer experience. Many airlines that have introduced amenity kits in Economy Class, have observed a steady rise in passengers on long-haul routes, resulting in better financial performance overall. Helping passengers spend the long journey in comfort by providing simple amenities results in improved experience.
Finally the entertainment system (IFE). Nowadays, airlines that do not provide a wide selection of entertainment also struggle with overall customer experience. Interestingly, passengers increasingly demand IFE system to be available even on a medium-haul flight. This has become a crucial service expected by passengers across the cabin.
What is more, some research suggest that when an aircraft is fitted with modern entertainment system, staff have less work due to the fact that passengers are busy watching movies, instead of asking for assistance. Also, less drinks and snacks are served on such flights. As a result, it is a win-win situation, staff can direct their attention more efficiently, and passengers have more ways to spend their time on a long flight.
In conclusion, all of these examples either already are or soon will become the essential product parts of the airline customer experience. So I hope these have been of interest to you, whatever sector you are involved in.
Posted by guest blogger, Julian Lukaszewicz, former airline customer experience consultant
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