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Airports are busy places with many different stakeholders with very different objectives. In that environment, the end customer can often be forgotten or marginalised. Whether it’s being taken on a meandering detour through a retail jungle when you are in search of a departure gate, struggling to understand why it feels like there is only one loo for every 1,000 passengers or having to sprint to meet the person picking you up so they avoid a £50 fine for waiting to greet you for more than 5 minutes.
That said, despite pressures from retailers and regulators, some airports can be inspirations with a wealth of Customer Experience ideas for any practitioners to learn.
#1 Managing your customers’ expectations
Too often brands miss the opportunity to reduce their customer’s anxiety. Filling the gaps explaining what will happen next and when it will happen not only legitimise the important on-going engagement with customers, but it also demonstrates they know how to help customers, recognising enhancing their emotional state connects with customers at a deeper level.
It’s played out brilliantly here. The time it will take to get to the departure gate is blasted to the ground. The anxious passenger can now assess their situation and with every 30 second increment displayed, they can track their progress. If enough time, the passenger can relax more. If the passenger is short of time, they can speed up. Either way the signpost on what is otherwise a redundant space is helpful and increasing appreciation of the airport.
#2 Personalising the experience
I’ll never forget being at an Airline conference where a customer aviation expert claimed the future of airline travel was about personalisation. Only to then present several airline ticket, insurance and hotel bundles labelled as ‘the weekender’ and ‘family fun’ proposition which he boasted when bought together were actually more expensive than the individual parts. But it would be made so complicated that customers wouldn’t be able to work it out. Even worse than this, the audience applauded! I felt very alone sitting on that panel debate.
Personalisation means something very different to me. I feel this example explains it well. At Copenhagen, like many airports all passengers need to pass through the baggage collection section to get to the exit. Those with only hand luggage don’t need to get caught up in there, so this example below is personalised to that segment.
The only thing that matters to this audience is getting through the airport fast and one with their trip – after all it’s in part why they’ve crammed everything in to their hand luggage. This message connects with what matters most to that customer type. Personal doesn’t need to be 1 to 1, it’s about being relevant to specific needs.
#3 Keep customers before you lose them
Some sectors are guilty of this more than others. Here’s the scenario. The retail company knows it has a problem with it’s returns because they see social media noise and get angry calls to the call centre. But it’s not tracked in VoC because the VoC vendor hasn’t scoped it in their requirements. So, first the additional work is scoped and paid for. Feedback is then collected. There is a delay in acting on the feedback until there is enough evidence to make it statistically valid. The CX team get to work on it (maybe after some more mapping) and eventually the team identify it’s down to the poor service contract in place with the outsourced collection courier company. But procurement say the contract is locked down for 12 more months on the terms agreed (which were never checked with customers). Following which a change can be looked at. 6 months on and the CX team start to work out what’s needed (a new collection courier company) and put together the Requirements Specification for a new vendor selection process. Which they initiate 6 months later.
In the meantime all the customers have left!
Why not share progress with customers throughout? If you know something’s wrong, flag it. As you start to get an inclination of what’s gone wrong, get on to it. Don’t wait for the 75th complaint to make it valid. And tell your customers you know it’s not working, why and that you are on to it. Share your plans with on how you will get it right and by when. Offer customers the chance to put in their views to help get to a better place.
This example explains why there is disruption, what the improved airport areas will offer and helps passengers engage with the change. Even if they don’t get to benefit from the change they know it’s happening and why so are comfortable with it. So rather than moan about disruption, they can appreciate the move from ‘AS IS’ to ‘TO BE’.
So that just leave the extra 1/2
For me this is about observation. Customer Experience is all around us. We interact and are a part of a company’s intentions every day. There are lessons to learn daily.
I didn’t make a b-line for Copenhagen Airport to write a blog on my customer experience observations, I was there to help a client structure a business case for CX investment against return. But whether it’s walking through Copenhagen Airport on the return leg of a work trip, purchasing corner flags online from Sports Direct for a team development workshop (which turn up after they were needed) or noting how many companies follow-up and remember what you were interested at the Grand Designs Show (AXA weren’t making the most of their investment there – I’m still waiting for a follow-up two weeks later), opportunity for CX ideas are everywhere.
So, put a Moleskin pocket-book on your birthday list, set you iPhone to camera mode and build your own insight bank of CX ideas and inspiration as you go about your daily business.
In the meantime, feel free to review our blogs, or contact me to borrow examples from my much cherished collection.
To finish, when it comes to finding new ideas for CX, as Ferris Bueller, the most eligible bachelor of them all put it…
Happy CX hunting.
Posted by Christopher Brooks. Director, Lexden Limited, Customer Experience Consultancy.
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Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience insight, strategy, content and creative activation clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.