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PASSENGER SERVICES Last modified on September 13, 2019

Striving for excellence

ACI World’s Valerie St James and Sevda Fevzi consider how the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Arrivals Survey can help airports create the best customer experience for their passengers.

Are departing passengers more satisfied with an airport’s services than arriving passengers, or vice versa?

Are there any specific groups of passengers particularly influenced or less satisfied with the Arrivals experience at an airport?

The departure experience at an airport can mark the beginning of a trip for a passenger, while for others, it is the beginning of the return of the trip. The same logic can be applied to a passenger arriving at an airport, they can arrive at their destination or can be back home.

In both cases, there are two starts and two ends to a customer journey through an airport and the customer experience the passenger has can have an impact on the onward journey or can form the lasting memory the passenger will have from an airport.

For an airport to get the most out of an investment to improve the passenger experience, we must start by understanding the overall passenger journey. At Arrivals, airports are constrained by the fact that the main objective of the passengers is to leave the airport as soon as possible.

Arriving passengers are equally as important as departing ones

An airport passenger can experience different emotions during Arrivals, compared to Departures, has distinctive priorities and a different state of mind.

Results from ACI’s ASQ Departures and Arrivals surveys confirm that both types of journeys do not generate the same level of satisfaction. In the 2018 ASQ surveys, for example, passengers were slightly more satisfied at departures (4.19) than arrivals (4.13).

So, how can airports continue to enhance customer experience satisfaction levels for the Arrivals audience?

The Arrivals process is part of the entire passenger journey. There can be more or less steps to be reached depending on the context. For instance, is the passenger arriving internationally or domestically? Do they have checked in luggage or carry on only?

One thing all these different types of passengers have in common is that they are anxious to complete the process. It may be someone is waiting for them, they are on their way to a meeting, or they are just tired from their trip: this feeling of being rushed puts the passenger in a certain mood with a specific set of expectations.

And this state of mind puts pressure on airports, as the expectations in terms of efficiency are high. The 2018 ASQ results show that delayed passengers or passengers that had to wait on the runway before accessing the terminal had a significantly lower overall satisfaction of the entire Arrivals journey.

Considering these insights, it is even more important to explore the key dimensions that contribute in creating a positive experience for passengers once they are in the terminal. To pinpoint those key dimensions, and ensure that every passenger journey touchpoint is considered, is to put yourself in your passengers’ shoes.

Throughout the journey, they are discovering the airport, they experience the service and the facilities, and they interact with the staff. What information do they need? What emotions are they experiencing? What messages are they receiving from the environment they are exposed to? All of these variables will have an impact on their overall appreciation of the process.

When surveying the passengers at Arrivals, emotions and perceptual evaluation of services must be considered:

–The overall flow at each step of the process: immigration, baggage claim and customs

–The overall perception of the security, the ambience, the walking distances, wayfinding, the organisation of the waiting line, and the availability and helpfulness of the staff.

Once the range of emotions and perceptions have been identified, measuring the level of satisfaction for each of those elements provides airports with the full picture of customer experience sentiments.

It will also offer the level of details necessary to support improvement initiatives prioritisation, and potentially add additional resources where necessary. Repeating measurement of the customer experience satisfaction over time is an effective way to understand the ROI of your initiatives.

Bengaluru–Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) in India is the first recipient of the ASQ Arrivals Award (2018) and the very first ASQ member airport to win in both ASQ programmes.

The airport stood out from the crowd for its efficient layout that minimises walking distances between each step of the journey.

Striving2

Is surveying Arrivals passengers realistic?

Surveying passengers at Arrivals brings its own set of challenges, however. Even though it would be tempting to reach out to the passengers once they are back home and more open to take the time to share their experience, real time surveys have much more value.

Why? Because the experience is still fresh in peoples’ mind and their mood has not been impacted by any event that may have happened after leaving the airport. Also, passengers should be met close to the end of their journey to allow measurement of the entire process, but their level of promptness to participate will be reduced.

To counter this, ACI ASQ has devised an app-driven survey on tablet devices, where the passenger is interviewed by a fieldwork agent to help accelerate the time it takes for the passenger to complete the survey.

While the Arrivals passenger may seem to have limited opportunities to contribute to an airport’s non-aeronautical revenues, improving the passenger experience can bring an airport to the next level.

Will a positive, simple and quick process have an impact on the passenger’s mood? Will it provide more time to stay in the retail area? Understanding your Arrivals passengers and their expectations will not only improve their perception of your airport but pave the way to explore new sources of revenues.

Through ASQ Arrivals, an airport can also better understand how the passenger intends to continue their journey upon leaving the airport, helping build in-depth passenger profiles and capture more demographic information about their passengers.

To deliver the best customer experience, ACI recommends that airport members endeavour to excel in both the inbound (Arrivals) and outbound (Departures) phases of the passenger journey, and therefore we invite member airports to implement both the ASQ Departures and Arrivals survey programmes. Doing so is also the only way to gain a 360 view, and feedback from, the entire passenger journey through the airport.

Another tool within the ASQ suite of airport customer experience solutions is the new ASQ Commercial Survey programme. It is designed to help airports of all sizes to assess their commercial areas – the services that they provide and how customers experience those services – and provides them with valuable insights into:

– Why passengers choose to spend or not in commercial areas;

– Which passenger groups use retail, food and beverage and other commercial services the most;

– What airports should do to improve the commercial services experience for their customers, and

– What airports can do to improve commercial revenues.

The new wave of recently accredited airports from the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme will be announced at the upcoming ACI Customer Experience Global Summit 2019 taking place in Bali, Indonesia, from September 2-5.

About the authors

Valerie St James is ACI World’s senior manager of ASQ and Sevda Fevzi is ACI World’s manager for business development and customer care of (ASQ). Visit https://aci.aero/customer-experience-asq/ or email  to find out more about ACI’s ASQ programmes and how they can help your airport enhance customer experience management.

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