The modern airport is a business in its own right, no matter the governance model, which must compete for air service to generate the economic vitality its community demands. As such, customer service and experience is a core priority. As the aviation industry has worked to reduce barriers to travel, physical and financial, and as socio-economic shifts have fueled the global propensity to travel, aviation has experienced not only growth but diversity in its passenger base. In light of these factors. understanding and meeting the different needs and expectations of the modern, and emerging, passenger base, is the key to producing a positive airport customer experience.
Airport management has clearly demonstrated its commitment to produce a high quality of customer experience as we have seen through the uptake of the ACI Airport Service Quality (ASQ) programme, training and workshop offerings and highlights in the PassengersPlus website.
In its essence, ASQ is a global benchmarking programme measuring passengers’ perceptions and satisfaction while they are travelling through an airport. But, more than that, the programme assists airports assess their own performance in meeting their own passengers` expectations. Over the years the programme has been in existence, it has given us insights into what is most and least important to the customer experience and how that is changing over time and in reaction to what airports around the world have instituted in their attempts to improve the customer experience. Some 65% of the world`s passengers travel through airports that subscribe to the ASQ survey of departing passengers.
Because customer service has become such a high priority for our members, ACI has expanded the ASQ programme offerings. Last year, ACI added an Arrivals Survey and an Employee Survey for Customer Experience to the ASQ portfolio. This year, we have reinforced the service offering to our members by developing the ASQ barometer, which was in direct response to members’ feedback that they needed to be proactive in measuring their efforts against sound and objective data. We appreciate that objective measurement and benchmarking are critical in driving performance in a business as competitive and dynamic industry as airport management. These quarterly reports will go a long way in helping inform airports and, in turn, encourage them to strive for continued customer excellence in tangible ways that resonate with their customers. We will soon add a Commercial Survey. With pressure on airports to diversify and strengthen sources of non-aeronautical revenue, the Commercial Survey helps airports make crucial decisions about the mix of services they provide.
But what have we learned, over the past five years, as providers of this global programme? In what way has our service enabled us to better understand the evolutions of our industry but also of the needs of the traveling public?
Based on our findings, there has been a regular increase in the overall ASQ airports’ performance which shows clearly that ACI Member airports are aware of the importance of the customer experience and are using their performance scores to identify and mitigate weaknesses in their service proposition. Specifically, the overall satisfaction improved from 4.08 in 2013 to 4.19 in 2017, on a scale of 1 to 5
The ASQ programme defines six dimensions: Security; Retail, Food and Beverage; Infrastructure; Wayfinding; Check-In; and Access. Globally, the best performing categories in 2017 were: Check-in (4.26 out of 5.0) Passport/ID control (4.24), Security (4.21), and Wayfinding (4.20).
The most improvement in scores in 2017 compared to 2013 were for infrastructure and access, reflecting airport investment in the wake of strong growth in passenger volumes. As a guide to airports setting priorities for future investments, the dimensions that will have the greatest impact on overall satisfaction are infrastructure, retail, food and beverage and security, in that order.
Clearly, in the fast-changing world of airports, ASQ is a vital component in an airport’s understanding of how to deliver better passenger service. We have learned a lot and we have successfully added a host of new tools in order to better guide member airports in their journey toward passenger service excellence and we will continue to do so.
To that end, we will launch the inaugural ACI Customer Excellence Global Summit in Halifax, Canada, from 10-13 September 2018, to hear from the world’s best in customer excellence, from inside and outside of the airport industry. We will also celebrate the airports that earned the highest scores from their customers in 2017 at the Gala ASQ Awards ceremony.