By Dimitri Coll, Vice President, Airport Customer Experience and Tim Canada, VP, Business Solutions, Tatvam
A growing number of airport executives are alerted to the fact that measuring passenger experience is a provable way to increase revenue and grow their airport business. In fact, according to ACI research, every 1% increase in the global passenger satisfaction mean generates an additional 1.5% in non-aeronautical revenue. Leading airports are now creating Customer Experience (CX) departments, entirely dedicated to ensuring that every action the airport takes has the customer’s best interest in mind.
In a recent interview, Clayton White, Customer Experience Manager at San Antonio International Airport, said that passenger experience has “expanded beyond the transaction,” and that the “customer is at the center of every decision we make at the airport.” Another example, which has recently been recognized for its exemplary efforts toward passenger experience, is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Steve Mayers, Director of Customer Experience, ADA and Title VI Coordinator is quoted saying that “customer experience drives more revenue than customer service.” By being present “before, during and after” the passengers’ travel experience, the airport is in a better position to anticipate customers’ needs and drive non-aeronautical revenue.
Both airports have demonstrated an incredible devotion to passenger experience, and as a result have seen major recognition from both ACI as well as their passengers. Hartsfield-Jackson is the recipient of three awards in recent years (Best Airport in North America for over 40 million passengers per year (2020 and 2021) and Best Hygiene Measures in North America (2020)), while San Antonio International Airport’s CX centric mentality has led them to receive three awards as well (Best Airport in North America for 5 to 15 million passengers per year (2020) and Best Hygiene Measures in North America (2020 and 2021), in addition to the prestigious “ACI Director General’s Roll of Excellence” award, conferred to airports that have won multiple awards over a five-year period in the last 10 years).
Both airports have recognized the importance of passenger experience as an important business driver and have created dedicated CX departments that go “beyond the transaction.”
Airports like San Antonio and Atlanta, and many others across the world, recognize the importance of effectively listening to passengers as a means of managing and improving the customer experience delivery. Since 2006, the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) surveys remain the industry standard for solicited feedback that are at the center of the customer insight strategy, continuing to be the primary metric to measure and benchmark an airports’ passenger experience. As mentioned by Steve Mayers, “due to the academic approach taken by ASQ, we see the ASQ reports as the most credible insight we can get regarding our passenger experience.” Additionally, Clayton White shared a similar sentiment, saying that the ASQ survey is extremely valuable to them because it provides “insight on where we stand against other airports.”
As ASQ surveys continue to be a vital component of a passenger experience strategy, some airports are also finding ways to improve daily customer experience tactics with complementary tools. One such tool is Tatvam, a product for monitoring qualitative feedback in real-time. Airports are using Tatvam as a means for monitoring the day-to-day comments left by passengers from unsolicited channels like online reviews and social media. Tatvam is designed to collect data in real-time and use AI and sentiment analysis to recognize patterns in what passengers are saying and how they feel. This has become a go-to resource for several airports who want to make quick and tactical actions to respond to immediate passenger experience needs.
Steve Mayers mentioned: “Tatvam helps us pinpoint how often people are talking about all the different touchpoints that ASQ measures, on a real-time basis, so we can better manage daily issues and battle potential reputational damage that can have longer term consequences on customer experience.” He went on to explain that customer satisfaction has increased since airport staff can more rapidly address customer concerns, ultimately helping to increase the ratings they receive from their quarterly ASQ field surveys.
In addition to the real-time value, Tatvam also provides airports with even more data to analyze, so they can access more viewpoints regarding the passenger experience and increase their insight to make better decisions. For example, Tatvam pulls together social mentions, online reviews, external survey comments and even collects online review feedback left on third-partyvendor pages like concessionaires and rental car facilities. This feature specifically has enabled the team at San Antonio International Airport to provide additional value to their vendor partners by giving them insights on what passengers are saying about them. “We’re able to collect real-time information passengers say about our vendors and pass that information on to them,” said Clayton White, Customer Experience Manager.
Go green: ASQ tablets
It’s an open secret, but close to 80 % of ASQ airport members are collecting surveys on tablets. Airports can therefore upload the surveys collected at any point during the day and immediately have access to the live raw data and comments. Monitoring solicited and unsolicited channels is becoming a very powerful combination to manage operations and develop a long-term strategy to excel in customer experience.
In today’s world, it has never been more important to ensure your airport has a presence across all the channels your passengers travel through. Finding practical, dependable, and affordable ways to accomplish this, along with managing and acting on the results, can drastically improve passenger experience. Airports like SAT and ATL are combining approaches towards the improvement of passenger experience to increase passenger satisfaction scores, win awards, and generate more revenue.
Tim Canada is currently VP, Business Solution at NetServ Applications as well as the lead Product Owner of NetServs’ proprietary product Tatvam. In both roles, Tim has worked with CX focused businesses across the world, overseeing complex IT projects and the development of custom technology interfaces. Additionally, through the Tatvam solution, Tim has extensive experience integrating data and creating robust data intelligence and reporting environments to help companies measure customer sentiment to improve customer experience.