By Sharon De Mel, Senior Manager Customer Experience
As market pressures build and passenger frustrations rise, airlines face a seemingly impossible situation of delivering service they want at a cost that won’t break the bank.
So where can the industry start to find a solution? One place is with the customers themselves. While airlines have corporate standards to contend with, research from the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) group suggests fliers have their own set of standards. And, in at least some cases, meeting their expectations aren’t as difficult, or as costly as might be imagined. Researchers surveyed customers on three distinct phases of the flying experience – preparing to depart, the in-flight experience, and activities following arrival.
Naturally, fliers want check-in to be as quick as possible. But how quick is “quick”? Research shows that the “magic” time is 20 minutes. That’s the maximum passengers feel they should wait for check-in.
There are other factors that are important to departing fliers such as:
Ease of time getting from the boarding gate onto the plane
Information provided on flight times (including information about changes or delays)
Cleanliness and maintenance of airport facilities
Ease of takeoff
However, out of everything…personal attention is the #1 factor that matters to fliers. A few years ago, a Saturday Night Live skit got a lot of laughs making fun of the welcomes and goodbyes of airline flight attendants. But passengers report they take those greetings seriously. In fact, the personal attention they receive from flight crews is crucial to overall flier satisfaction. As simple and easy as a smile and a hello, the quick interaction works to reassure passengers that the attendants will be there to take care of the flier’s needs. That interaction is especially important on long flights.
It’s probably no surprise: The most-reviled phase in the travel experience for fliers is actually waiting for and claiming luggage. Passenger fatigue and frustrations encountered during departure and in-flight can help make baggage pickup even more frustrating.
Honeywell’s take on the data
In every phase of flight, customers want to know that they matter to the company they’re working with. As flights become fuller, competition gets tougher, and profit margins become tighter, that personal acknowledgement becomes even more important.
It’s essential for Honeywell to create an on-going dialogue that keeps us up to speed on our customers’ expectations. If they have problems with any aspect of our operation, we have to make sure we know it first. Right now, companies that can correct situations receive only about 5% of customer complaints. It’s critical that businesses, like Honeywell, take care of the causes of concerns, and invite criticism, comments, and feedback from the people who count most….our customers!