According to 2018 research by Marketing Week in partnership with MiQ, 42% of marketers think their organisation should be structured around the customer. However, the reality is very different. Most marketing departments are either product-centric or focus on marketing disciplines, with only 5.8% of businesses set up to prioritise customer experience.
What is customer experience and why is it important for airports?
“Customer experience (CX) refers to a customer’s perception of their overall interactions with a company.” (hotjar.com)
Including but not exclusive to customer service, CX covers every touchpoint a customer has with your airport, from the first time they visit your website via a search engine listing to the ease with which they can make their booking and the review they leave on your social media page. In order to provide a great customer experience you need to build a solid understanding of your customer personas, their needs and their booking journey.
As consumer expectations and competition increase, making it easier than ever for people to take their business elsewhere, CX has become central to the process of customer acquisition and retention. Organisations must be structured in a way that makes it possible to respond and adapt quickly, but many are still failing to meet this basic requirement. A recent study of Customer Experience Excellence by KPMG Nunwood found a distinct lack of improvement in brands’ customer experience, with the average score across the top 100 brands increasing by only 0.7%. The fact is; many businesses do not have the internal structures in place to respond to the rapidly changing digital environment in which they operate.
The focus on CX shows no sign of decreasing, but if brands want to truly meet consumer need and expectation they must build a much deeper understanding of their customers so they can not only react but also anticipate customer demand. It’s time to listen to customer feedback, act on insights and deliver a consistent customer experience that will really separate you from the competition.
Influencing the customer before they buy
In today’s ecommerce landscape it is easy for customers to conduct upfront research, from searching comparison sites for the best deals to checking out customer service reviews and looking at how a company responds to social media comments. Before they decide to make a booking, the customer is likely to have drawn several conclusions about your airport and whether they want to buy from you.
This presents new opportunities. You can use social media and digital channels to build your airport’s profile and brand personality, and integrate a CRM system like Rezcomm to learn more about your customers. When customers are more connected, problems can be identified and resolved much more quickly, allowing you to streamline your external message with real customer experience, adding credibility to your marketing.
CX at the Airport
In its 2018 report, Experience is Everything: Here’s How To Get It Right, PwC found that 73% of global respondents say a positive experience is among the key drivers that influence their brand loyalties. People are willing to put money on it too, saying they would pay as much as 16% more for a better customer experience, defined by speed, convenience, a friendly service and knowledgeable help.
When it comes to CX inside the airport terminal, PhocusWire shares some interesting insights into innovations that are improving the process of air travel for passengers at LAX airport.
These include recent technology that helps the airport to understand what passengers feel about their experience in the terminal. Using an artificial intelligence-backed data analytics system, LAX has begun analysing data from the survey responses and public social media posts of around 16,000 travellers, offering an understanding of the things that really make a difference for those customers on an emotional level. To add context, the public domain comments from other competing airports are also analysed.
The PhocusWire report also shares areas of the airport service that can significantly improve CX, including baggage tracking, passenger traffic management, mobile food ordering and biometric ID. Each of these aspects of customer service provision represents an understanding of what the customer needs and how on-site experience can be improved. For example, if a customer has a great flying experience but when they arrive their baggage is lost, that negative feeling will colour the whole trip and all the work done to build a good relationship with the customer is jeopardised. According to PwC, 59% of customers will walk away after several bad experiences, and 17% after just one bad experience.
So how can a customer-centric approach help your airport fix missed opportunities?
If we start by looking at the customer booking journey it becomes easy to see where blockages might occur. Each touchpoint, from the initial active evaluation through the trip itself, the return home and the ongoing loyalty loop offers a chance to engage the customer, winning a booking through your airport website, or lose them as they book with a competitor. So what are the key steps you can take today to bring the focus round to the customer?
Building a culture of customer care
The aim is to run your airport with your customers at the heart of everything you do. This means you must continually gauge sentiment like they have been doing at LAX airport, and you need to plan ahead. When are you next going to survey your customers? How else can you gain insights into customer feeling and feedback at various points in your customer journey?
In order to make improvements that are rooted in customer wants, needs and dissatisfactions, it is vital to PLAN. Make sure that this planning is part of your overall operation and doesn’t get pushed to one side. Strong momentum and constant assessment will help keep the focus on the customer experience as it is now and as you want it to be.
Make sure that you let customers know you are committed to improvement. Communication is really important when it comes to managing customer expectations. And don’t feel downhearted if customer feedback doesn’t pick up immediately. Loyalty is based on trust, and a customer often needs to experience a change several times in order to feel confident in raising their feedback score.
In order to create compelling marketing it’s vital to have a really good understanding of your customers. Rezcomm’s integrated online booking, CRM and email marketing software comes with detailed back-end reporting and analysis functions that allow your airport to develop external messages that are effective because they are in line with customer insights.
Remember, it can be easy to find yourself chasing business targets and forgetting to focus on the customer, but in the long run, customer focus really is the key to commercial success. After all, what business can continue to successfully operate without its customers?
Embrace customer opinion
Without insights into customer opinion, you are spending on marketing budgets with no clear sense of what will resonate.
There are several ways you can learn more about your customers and make sure their experience matches your messaging and that you are consistently sending the right message to the right person at the right time.
Keep your finger on the social media pulse. If customers are posting about your airport, you need to know what they are saying. Set up Facebook check-in and hashtags across platforms so you can easily track posts about your airport. You should be familiar with your online profile and up to date with feedback on relevant review sites too.
Ask for feedback
Direct insight is hugely valuable and offers great pointers for future marketing campaigns. It also gives context allowing you to identify whether problems raised in negative feedback are common to a large customer base or just one-off bad experiences. This process can be simply and cost-effectively achieved using online polls or surveys integrated into the booking journey, or with an engaging personalised email timed to send when the customer returns home from their trip. With Rezcomm’s integrated systems, emails like this can be set up as part of an automated workflow.
Customer experience as part of the team ethos
CX is not something that can just be implemented by the marketing or customer service department. Everyone from the bottom to the top of the organisation must be committed to its improvement.
As we’ve said, you can work to find out the reasons behind any negative customer opinions by running customer surveys. This will also help you to understand which aspects are more or less important to customers, giving useful pointers for areas that need improvement and those you can celebrate.
However, it is also really important that you identify any internal barriers, whether these are limitations in your current technology systems, problems in your operational processes or issues related to internal culture. Only once you have a holistic view of your situation and reputation can you plan to improve.
Common problems from the customer perspective are disconnect across internal processes and inconsistent customer relations. The customer and business intelligence capabilities in Rezcomm’s systems address both of these issues, streamlining operational efficiencies and customer engagement and offering valuable insights into operational and product performance and customer behaviour. Using Rezcomm, you can import data from your surveys and map it against any structure, showing the results in visual dashboards that make it easy to see and address pain points.
Once you have a clear insight into real customer experience, it’s time to take action. Be prepared to listen to the results of customer feedback and you will see tangible improvements in your business. It’s worth hosting a staff debrief to cover significant survey feedback too. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s important that key members of your airport’s team understand the experience of real customers.
Rezcomm’s team of experts can help with this too. With many years of industry experience, Rezcomm’s omnichannel ecommerce and CRM products have been developed alongside and as the result of significant client feedback and study of customer behaviour, placing the team in the driving seat when it comes to airport and venue CX.
As you start to implement changes, you can re-engage customers with email subjects like, “We’ve made some improvements since you’ve been away,” and (this was a real heading used by branding company struck.com), “We missed you. So we built a whole new website to show how much we care. Really. We did.”
The customer journey is ongoing
Finally, when you look for opportunities to place the customer at the heart of your airport’s operational and marketing plans, remember, the buying journey is cyclical. Touchpoints come and go, but at each turn there is an opportunity to move the customer forward or to pick up again where you left off. When a customer comes to your airport website, the journey is not linear. The booking is just the start of an ongoing relationship that you can nurture and build with the right support.
If you would like to know more about how Rezcomm can help you get to know your customers, or for advice on your emarketing strategy for 2019, contact the team today.
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