Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the importance of always striving to do better when it comes to customer service and enhancing the airport experience for passengers.
Former ACI World chair and president and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), James Cherry, once told me that the key to good customer service was to treat people how you would want to be treated, and I don’t think that you can go far wrong with such a wise philosophy.
I also believe that it is a strategy that an ever increasing number of airports are beginning to take onboard as they bid to raise customer service levels and enhance the airport experience for passengers.
Improving the quality of the facilities and services they provide was certainly high on the agenda of all the top and highly ranked gateways in ACI’s 2017 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction awards.
We have news, views and reaction from many of the winning airports in our four-page review of the 2017 ASQ results, which featured a significant number of first-time winners that included Athens, Belo Horizonte, Casablanca, Cleveland, Rome Fiumicino and Toronto Pearson.
His airport might not have picked up an award this time out, but you can also find out just how seriously Brussels Airport CEO, Arnaud Feist, takes customer service in our main feature on Belgium’s gateway to the world.
Also coming under the spotlight in this ‘customer service’ themed issue is the launch of ASQ barometer – the first ever barometer on global airport service quality – which provides a global snapshot of customer experience satisfaction levels at airports.
The impact that innovative retail and design can have on customer satisfaction levels and a new survey revealing how the use of new technologies are helping pave the way for richer passenger experiences also come under scrutiny.
Elsewhere, we take a closer look at the comparatively new trend of airport ‘Innovation Labs’, which an ever-increasing number of mid to large size gateways across the globe are creating in a bid to develop new ways of enhancing performance levels, boosting revenues and further reducing their impact on the environment.
Airport attitudes towards customer service, and the commitment towards delivering it, have certainly come a long way since the late 1970s and early 1980s when if there were no queues at check-in or you could find a spare seat in the Departures Hall, the airport experience was generally perceived to have been good.
This is definitely not the case today as people are much more discerning and travel savvy and, more to the point, they know what is possible in terms of facilities, services and connectivity and if they don’t get it are prepared to go somewhere else to find it.
Indeed, at the recent Airport Economics & Finance Conference and Exhibition in London, some delegates even admitted to paying more for their tickets so that they could transit through an airport that they liked and offered the kind of experience they wanted.
Customer service isn’t, of course, the only topic covered in this issue. We also take the opportunity to look back at April’s Airport Economics & Finance Conference and Exhibition; catch-up with the latest ACI news; and hear from ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, about the need for economic regulation that encourages and not hinders airport growth.
And if that’s not enough, we have an exclusive interview with Kadri Samsunlu, CEO of IGA Airport Operation, who tells us more about what we can expect from Istanbul New Airport, which is due to open for business on October 29 this year.
I hope you enjoy the issue.