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102 Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey ChaptersÂ 3 and 4 focused on the travelerâs experience along the various points of the journey; however, some factors affecting the travelersâ experience apply to most areas of the airport. Travelersâ perspectives of these broader factors are outlined in ChapterÂ 5. This chapter focuses on factors that influence travelersâ overall experiences traversing the airport, such as basic needs, environs factors, customer interface, talent management, technology, and disruptive events. FigureÂ 54 summarizes some of the outcomes of the overall airport journey desired by travelers. C H A P T E R 5 BASIC NEEDS Use of artificial intelligence Use of digital displays Autonomous vehicles Minimize walking distances Improve maintenance and cleanliness Airport tours/rehearsal programs TALENT MANAGEMENT Create behavioral standards Standardized CX training Engage employees CUSTOMER INTERFACE Easy access to customer service Creation of CX councils COMMUNICATION Keep travelers informed of disruptions Provide assurance airport is taking steps necessary to protect the public ENVIRONS FACTORS Improve acoustics, lighting elements, use scents Incorporate natural settings/greenery Incorporate human-centric architectural features TECHNOLOGY Figure 54. Summary of outcomes desired by travelers for the overall customer experience.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 103Â Â 5.1 Navigating the Chapter In this chapter, for three of the factors influencing the overall journey (basic needs, environs factors, and customer interface) travelersâ perspectives are presented in a graphic (see an example of this graphic following this paragraph) that first shows the perspectives of the general trav- eler population (composed of similar feedback shared by four or more traveler segments). Individual traveler segments that shared unique concerns or feedback are presented next. For each of the three factors, a discussion of actions that airports can take to address the factor follows the graphic. The three other factors that affect the overall airport journeyâtalent management, technology, and disruptive eventsâare discussed in the remainder of the chapter. 5.2 Defining Basic Needs Being able to recognize what passengers require, expect, and value is considered vital for enhancing the passenger experience because âthe minimum level may not be enoughâ to create a positively differentiated airport experience (Future Travel Experience, 2014). However, in order for the travelers to experience the latter, first, their basic needs have to be met. First of all, âbasic needsâ must be described and identified. FigureÂ 55 incorporates Maslowâs Hierarchy of Needs indicating the imperative to satisfy basic needs (Required) before pro- gressing through the next levels of the hierarchy to the ultimate level of customer experience at the airport. Basic needs, on the lowest level of Maslowâs Hierarchy of Needs, are ârequired.â Meeting standard basic needs can be accomplished at a variety of levels. For example, food may be available in vending machines. The next level up may be a fast-food or grab-and-go concept. Higher levels include added services such as casual dining restaurants and fine dining. The definition of âbasicâ depends on the character, culture, and present needs of the traveler, which vary within and between airports. The Official Aviation Guide (OAG) surveyed more than 2,000 travelers and found that travelers value accessible and trustworthy information substantially more than emerging technologies such as robotics and biometrics. Airport staff must become more aware of their travelersâ preferences to be able to meet their basic needs. Once the ârequiredâ level is achieved, the âvaluedâ level is where improvement of the cus- tomer experience can truly be accomplished. Most of the time, âvaluedâ factors are within the airportâs control and can be easily addressed. At the time the graphic shown in FigureÂ 55 was published, free and fast Wi-Fi was considered an âexpectedâ factor, but fast forward 6Â years, and this is now starting to be considered a âbasicâ service to offer to passengers. However basic needs are defined, they have to be met first for travelers to recognize and appreciate other aspects of the airport. When travelersâ basic needs are not met, the added value of any âwowâ factors is greatly diminished. Changi Airportâs core focus is to ensure travelersâ
104 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience functional needs are addressed sufficiently with clear signage, clean restrooms, and free internet access. Only when these needs are met does Changi Airport seek to positively surprise pas- sengers with a myriad of services (thereby catering to road warriors and other travelers having different needs) (Norman, 2017). Basic needs include safety and security, a clean airport envi- ronment, timely processing of travelers through checkpoints, wayfinding, and the availability of basic facilities and customer service, all of which have been identified as key factors in enhancing customer experience. 5.3 Basic NeedsâTravelersâ Perspectives The graphic that follows outlines some of the basic needs identified by airport travelers and through research and discusses how to address them. (Image Source: Future Travel Experience, 2014. Image Credit: ACI Europe Note. i.s.o. = International Organization for Standardization) Figure 55. Hierarchy of needs. I. Perspective shared by the general traveler population Navigation and wayfinding â¢ Adequate signage to inform passengers and save time; should not have to spend time looking for signage and directions. â¢ Shorter walking distances. â¢ Functioning moving walkways, escalators, and elevators. â¢ Well-managed queues.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 105Â Â 5.4 Basic NeedsâActions for Airports The findings in this study indicate that basic needs are still not being met by some airports. To meet the basic needs of travelers, airports might consider some of the following. 5.4.1 Use of Intuitive and Directional Wayfinding and Signage Some of the following strategies can help travelers with navigating the airport: â¢ Improving navigation through design elements. Minimize level changes and turns of 90Â degrees or more to support passenger wayfinding and an intuitive customer journey (IATA & ACI, 2014). â¢ Strategic use of FIDSs. Locate FIDSs at strategic points in the travelersâ journey and ensure accurate and up-to-date information is provided. â¢ Use of universal symbols and pictorial, verbal, and tactile messaging. A mix of travelersâincluding those with language barriers and visual, hearing, and other physical limitationsârequires an intuitive design that communicates wayfinding through various means to minimize risks. â¢ Intuitive wayfinding design. Wayfinding design can help travelers make their way through the airport. Intuitive wayfinding design includes spaces designed to communicate steps along the departure or arrival process, a hierarchal organization of visual elements, and placement of furniture to direct traffic flows (Chang, 2020). FigureÂ 56 demonstrates the use of empty wall space for directional signage at Philadelphia International Airport. Cleanliness â¢ Often encounter dirty restrooms, wet floors. â¢ Need cleaner terminals and facilities. â¢ Maintain cleanliness and condition of carpets or remove carpets. Basic customer service â¢ Friendly, smiling, informed staff. â¢ Extra human assistance for groups that have special needs. Technology â¢ Free, easily accessed (no passcode required), and fast Wi-Fi. â¢ Adequate charging stations. Food and beverage â¢ Food options available at all hours of flight arrivals and departures. Amenities â¢ Adequate restrooms; making sure restrooms are used for designated purpose and are in close proximity (e.g., for special needs, families, seniors); doors open outwards as it is difficult to get out with bags otherwise; hooks and enough space for bags. â¢ Sufficient number of family restrooms. II. Perspectives unique to individual traveler segments Many traveler segments expressed the need for more restrooms (including family restrooms), as well as the need for food options to be open longer. Families with children had more specific requirements: â¢ Adequate family restrooms with diaper-changing stations or access to diaper-changing stations in both male and female restrooms (also applies to senior travelers and persons with disabilities). â¢ Nursing rooms or pods or family restrooms with nursing accommodations. â¢ At least one open food outlet (preferred handheld food options) as long as the airport is open.
106 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience 5.4.2 Minimizing Walking Distances In the effort to minimize walking distances, consider the following: â¢ Balancing the use of moving walkways with the encouragement of traveler spending at airport concessions. While many airports have removed moving walkways to encourage con- sumers to visit concessions along the way to their gate, moving walkways should be imple- mented where long walking distances become a hindrance and impede the travelerâs journey. â¢ Providing trams. Where possible, trams can help improve connectivity within the airport. Travelers have expressed a desire for ease of access to the trams. â¢ Providing autonomous shuttles/wheelchairs. Refer to Section 4.5.2. 5.4.3 Improving Airport Maintenance and Cleanliness To improve airport maintenance and cleanliness: â¢ Provide real-time feedback. The use of real-time feedback through technology has been shown to improve the ability of airports to track cleanliness and customer satisfaction (see FigureÂ 57). â¢ Prioritize cleanliness and maintenance of restrooms. Research shows that focusing on restrooms and providing cleaner and well-maintained facilities are valued by travelers. The use of âsmartâ restroom features that transmit customer data to the maintenance depart- ment in real time can help maintenance staff to respond promptly and help the customer experience department with tracking cleanliness levels. This can be accompanied by random inspections to ensure cleanliness and functionality. Restrooms can be designed as modular units so that they can be replaced every 4 to 5Â years since they age very quickly. If the rest- rooms are modular, the downtime for replacement will be 3 to 4Â days, instead of 3 to 8Â weeks (interview with Agatha Kessler, Fentress Architects, JanuaryÂ 2020). (Image source: Research Team) Figure 56. Use of empty wall space for directional signage at Philadelphia International Airport.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 107Â Â â¢ Review flight information and share it with the cleaning crew. Flight information indi- cating peak travel times should be shared with the maintenance department or firm so that cleaning services can take place around rather than during busy periods. 5.4.4 Customer Interface Tailored to Specific Traveler Segments To tailor the customer interface to specific traveler segments: â¢ Study and anticipate the needs of traveler segments. Understanding the unique needs of travelers can be useful in ensuring a positive experience for travelers. For example, research conducted by Fentress Architects found that business travelers value terminal designs and services that deliver convenience and control of their travel options and facilities that enhance âon-the-goâ productivity and promote personal well-being (Fentress, 2020). â¢ Balance human interaction with the use of technology. Understanding which customers value human interaction over technology and vice versa is important. For example, the Egencia Business Travel and Technology Survey, July 2017 reported on a survey of business travelers that found 50% of global respondents would avoid human interaction on the road unless they were having a problem (Egencia, 2017). 5.4.5 Provision of Easily Accessible Wi-Fi and Charging Ports Access to Wi-Fi and charging ports has become a basic expectation of most travelers. However, while most airports provide Wi-Fi, the services are not easily accessible (i.e., simple to access with no registration or login required and free) and oftentimes slow. Airport IT infrastructure should be improved to accommodate the basic need of free, fast, and easily accessible Wi-Fi. In addition, airports may not provide enough charging ports. The airport may consider having charging ports available at each or every other seat. 5.4.6 Terminal Design to Meet the Diverse Needs of Travelers Restrooms should be adequate to meet the number of travelers and designed to meet the needs of different groups of travelers (e.g., adequate number of family-sized restrooms with diaper-changing stations for children and adults). The availability of nearby restrooms should be specified in case a restroom is occupied, or there is a line. For example, a technology solu- tion developed by Zanitor Company allows restroom users to provide feedback on the quality (Image source: Research Team) Figure 57. Real-time restroom feedback with a touch-free option at Logan International Airport.
108 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience of service and the facility via a digital display. The device also provides information on the next closest available restroom (ACI Europe, 2014). Restroom stalls should also ideally have adequate space to accommodate carry-on luggage. In addition, restrooms with hand dryers should be indicated on maps, directories, and on the airport website so that travelers that may have a sensitivity to loud noises can avoid them. 5.5 Environs FactorsâTravelersâ Perspectives The research reveals that environs factors influence the travelerâs overall experience. Environs factors such as plants, lighting, temperature, artwork, colors, advertising, smells, sound, open- air, and layout are used by leading airports to positively influence the travelerâs journey. Several of these tangible and intangible factors can enhance the comfort of travelers and have a calming and relaxing influence. I. Perspective shared by the general traveler population Noise â¢ Avoid creating loud noise such as audible alarms and announcements which can be distracting, stressful, and create confusion. â¢ Monitor the volume of announcements, which is sometimes too loud and garbled at airports. â¢ Provide soothing or classical music to create a calming atmosphere. Lighting â¢ Provide skylights and/or natural light, which creates a positive experience. Do not provide intense or abrasive lighting; it contributes to a negative experience. Greenery â¢ Include plants and greenery, which contribute to a more enjoyable and relaxing experience and reduce the sterility of the environment. Smells â¢ Ensure that the terminal smells clean to help create a sense of cleanliness and relaxation. General â¢ Create terminals with more openness and an airy atmosphere. â¢ Design an ambiance to make the journey more enjoyable and create a more relaxing and calming environment. Have artwork in the airport because it is soothing and appealing. II. Perspectives unique to individual traveler segments Of the traveler segments in the research sample, persons with disabilitiesâspecifically blind/low-vision travelersâhad the following suggestions related to environmental factors: â¢ The airport should use high contrasting colors (dark against light colors) to differentiate walls, walkways, doorways, and so forth to help travelers navigate the airport and differentiate between different areas. â¢ Texture changes in the flooring and/or walls can help in wayfinding. â¢ A soft sound identifying gates would be helpful. â¢ Announcements for flights departing close to one another in adjacent gates can be problematic and confusing for blind/low-vision travelers. 5.6 Environs FactorsâActions for Airports Multiple stimuli, particularly in an already stressful airport environment, can elevate the stress levels of passengers. Passenger Terminal Today cites new research that supports the measurable, positive impacts of biophilic design on human health, strengthening the empirical evidence for the human- nature connection and raising its priority level within both design research and design practice (Craig, 2020). Strategies for reducing stress caused by multiple stimuli follow.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 109Â Â 5.6.1 Improve Acoustics â¢ Use of design elements to reduce noise levels. Using design elements such as carpeting to improve acoustics and incorporating natural sounds can help reduce unwanted noises. Incor- porating greenery and/or planters can create a pleasant environment and help with absorbing the sound (see FigureÂ 58). Planters can also be used creatively as partitions between different areas to create a sense of isolation. â¢ Implement a âsilent airport policy.â A number of airports have introduced a silent air- port policy by controlling the number and type of announcements being made. Provide a central announcement system for queuing announcements and restrict announcements to a volume the passengers within the gate area can hear, other than general announcements. Consider using an intelligent automatic announcement system with a single voiceover for announcements that is easy to understand. Stress levels are elevated for travelers who canât hear and/or understand the announcements being made. The use of screens to push visual announcements can reduce the noise factor. â¢ Monitor the volume and frequency of gate announcements. Monitor the volume and fre- quency of general announcements in the gate hold areas. 5.6.2 Improve Lighting Elements â¢ Incorporate natural lighting. Design features should incorporate as much natural lighting as possible to elevate moods. Natural lighting also has an impact on overcoming jet lag for international travelers. â¢ Use artificial lighting to soften the ambiance. For existing terminals that do not have enough natural lighting, artificial lighting can be utilized to soften the ambiance in place of the harsh (Image source: Research Team) Figure 58. Trees line the atrium at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
110 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience lighting currently used at a number of airports. Use dim warm light in airport areas where interpersonal conflicts and negotiations could take place (e.g., customs and TSA) as dim, warm light helps relieve negative emotions and anxiety. Use warm color lighting and accent lights in retail stores to attract attention and encourage buying behaviors. A space with warm colors (e.g., yellow and cream) sends a welcoming message to customers and increases the likelihood of them walking in and picking up merchandise. Space with cooler colors (e.g., purple and blue) tends to have the opposite effect. The need expressed by blind/low-vision travelers for high contrasting colors conflicts with the environment desired by other segments of travelers that represent the majority; therefore, it is suggested that airports focus on other environmental factors that can be opti- mized to accommodate the needs of blind/low-vision travelers. 5.6.3 Incorporate Natural Settings and Greenery Natural settings in the terminal can help passengers relax, reduce travel-related stress and anxiety, brighten moods, give travelers a sense of place, reduce the perception of waiting, and reduce boredom while waiting for flights. Exposure to nature at work is also related to employee satisfaction and well-being. Natural settings can be incorporated by â¢ Including indoor plants, especially in small confined spaces. â¢ Installing indoor gardens in larger passenger areas. Green elements in the environment reduce the likelihood of individuals engaging in aggressive behaviors. 5.6.4 Use of Scents and Smells Research has shown that scents can trigger emotions and memories. A positive example of how scents can influence behavior is detailed in a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychol- ogy showing that people engage more with merchandise and staff when a bookstore smells like chocolate (DoucÃ© etÂ al., 2013). 5.6.5 Incorporate Architectural and Design Features That Address Traveler Needs According to research conducted by ACI, architectural features such as the terminal enve- lope, space of seating areas, walking paths, floors, and ornaments affect passengersâ perception of the environment (Norman, 2019). For example, changing floor textures can assist blind/ low-vision travelers with navigating the terminal. The following highlights some of the touch- stones of design from Fentress Architects.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 111Â Â Other strategies for architectural and design features are the following: â¢ Keep up with the latest architectural trends: â The near-future airport campus will utilize an âall of the aboveâ sustainability strategy, harvesting its own energy and water, recycling its own waste, and growing its own aviation fuel (Aguilar etÂ al., 2015). â Given that most travelers now buy their tickets online and travelers are increasingly check- ing in online and remotely, airports may start to reclaim some of the ticketing and baggage claim areas for other purposes. â Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport recently added dynamic glass windows to one of its terminals. This resulted in significant improvements to customer experience in the res- taurant and boarding area environments: spending at a restaurant with dynamic glass was 102% higher, and the temperature at a gate with âsmart windowsâ was 15Â° cooler. â¢ Create a sense of place. The airport can be used as a branding opportunity for the host city/ surrounding areas. For instance, at Honoluluâs Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, where the design enables guests, passengers, and travelers to experience being in an environment that âtakes them away.â The airportâs Chinese, Hawaiian and Japanese Gardens were designed by Richard C. Tongg, in 1962, and show the influence of island life. âTouchstones of Designâ from Fentress Architectsâ approach to enhancing passenger experience through new airport terminal design (Source: Fentress, 2020) â¢ Discover the natural order. Find a natural flow of passengers through the terminal. As people become one with architecture, they become part of an experience. Principal design strategies include creating civic spaces based on the local community, improved wayfinding, ease of navigation between levels, futuristic technology, and incorporation of nature and art. â¢ Culture guides design. Capture and reflect shared beliefs, traditions, and aspirations. Let culture guide design. New airport terminals should capture and reflect the shared strengths of a community, reinforcing pride in resi- dents, as well as stirring curiosity and respect in visitors. The terminal should stand for something of value to the people for whom it was built, creating a gateway to the city. â¢ Celebrate the entry. Welcome access and encourage use. A visitorâs first encounter with a terminal should offer a mix of thrill and intrigue. New terminals should celebrate the arrival. â¢ Listen closely. The creation of great architecture is a social act uniting the people and place in context. One way that new airport terminals may work with the natural environment is to light the way. Natural lighting not only brightens airport terminals and helps people relax, it also reduces stress by making it easier to find and reach departure gates. â¢ Design for people. Build on the intangible dreams and inspiration of people. Human beings are constrained by time and space, but the ultimate goal is to transcend those limitations and design new airport terminals that elevate and restore. With air travel on the rise, passengers are seeking more of the amenities that make their time in the terminal more enjoyable.
112 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience Pathways, bridges, and stepping stones connect the three gardens. Waterways flow between ponds and lakes to symbolize the intermingling of the cultures in Hawaii. Sculptures from various artists can also be found in the gardens, adding a cultural element to the visit. (Craig, 2020) A photo of the Japanese Garden at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is provided in FigureÂ 59. â¢ Design with all types of travelers in mind. Airports have beacons that transmit location or directional information to blind/low-vision travelers through a smartphone app. How- ever,Â the latest technology is not always helpful for older travelers who need real physical changes to enhance their experience. To better understand certain traveler segmentsâ feelings, architects can utilize devices that mimic certain physical conditions to better empathize with what the traveler is feeling and to resolve the issues encountered. For example: â Use of a glove that generates constant tremor in the wearerâs hand, as someone with Parkinsonâs disease might experience. â Use of an aging simulator, complete with heavy boots, which will impose a slower walk- ing pace. â Wearing lenses that allow the wearer to experience different types of sight loss, as well as sound-canceling headphones (Slatin, 2017). â Simulation of the experiences of travelers through navigating the terminal sitting in a wheelchair, carrying bags while pushing a stroller, or blindfolded with a guide. 5.7 Customer InterfaceâTravelersâ Perspectives There are various points in the journey where an airport can help facilitate a human connec- tion. A human connection through customer interface is an interaction that can counter some of the more unpleasant procedural aspects of the airport experience. Customer interface includes general interaction with staff and others throughout the airport journey. Since customer interface is not an element unique to a specific journey point and occurs throughout the airport, this section provides traveler feedback on the overall customer interface experience and related recommendations. (Image source: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport) Figure 59. Japanese garden at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 113Â Â I. Perspective shared by the general traveler population â¢ Tendency for travelers to approach a staff member if they require assistance rather than a staff member approaching them. â¢ Additional customer service training to staff on airport layout, providing accurate directions, empathy, disability awareness, and anticipation of needs. â¢ Provide a feeling that the airport cares about its travelers. â¢ Help desks or representatives need to be better located, and staff should speak multiple languages. â¢ Focus on individuals and interactions and provide friendlier service. â¢ Create a proactive staff approach, which equips staff to handle various situations with kindness. â¢ Provide more information about the airport and keep passengers informed about changes so travelers can ask a human, when needed. â¢ Provide more staff and/or volunteers and information desks, with some staff and/or volunteers available in baggage claim and pre-security areas. â¢ Provide friendly staff that speak English well. â¢ Staff and volunteers should be proficient in English. â¢ Create a welcoming environment, e.g., offer a glass of orange juice in Florida airports. â¢ Generally, travelers prefer human assistance over technology; provide technology to assist when humans are not available. II. Perspectives unique to individual traveler segments Segment Specific traveler comments Families with children â¢ More customer service agents ready and available to help travelers in need. â¢ Friendlier service. â¢ Trained staff to provide directions. Military travelers â¢ Encountered staff who were not knowledgeable or informed of traveler needs. â¢ Staff with customer service training, empathy, and general knowledge. â¢ Striking a balance between technology and human help is desired. Non-native English speakers â¢ Identify common traveler issues and have cards with solutions in different languages or provide translators. â¢ Provide a notebook with common phrases that staff can use, which are translated into different languages. â¢ Training on patience with foreigners and general information; identify most common foreign travelers and identify their needs. â¢ Better identify staff and volunteers including those that speak foreign languages. Travelers with disabilities â¢ Train personnel on disability-related needs, navigation of airport, empathy, and basic communication skills. â¢ Keep special needs travelers better informed. â¢ Provide a device or tablet to allow contact with customer assistance. â¢ Hire or consult with disabled people to help with development of training and other services at the airport. â¢ Approach a special needs traveler as you would any other rather than assuming what they need. â¢ Specify the kind of special needs traveler so that assistance can come prepared (e.g., traveler will have a guide dog); recognize the difference between someone who is blind and someone with physical disabilities; treat everyone as individuals (one size does not fit all). â¢ Training staff on English language skills is particularly important for interacting with blind/low-vision travelers since they canât see gestures; information needs to be clearly spoken. Senior travelers â¢ Expressed concern about the lack of human help in the airport journey. â¢ Desire more proactive, genuine, welcoming staff. â¢ More staff to direct and assist travelers with general knowledge of the airport. â¢ Phones at information desks for passengers to use to call customer service if a representative is not manning the booth and a sign indicating it is available for passenger use. â¢ Use of technology is sometimes confusing, especially for those that do not use it often. This makes it especially difficult when a person is expected to use technology (such as using the website or information directories when they are not comfortable with that activity). â¢ Robotic assistance for seniors may be a customer service solution. Student travelers â¢ Concerned about the lack of human help in the airport journey. â¢ Desire more proactive, genuine, welcoming staff and more staff to direct and assist travelers with general knowledge of the airport.
114 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience 5.8 Customer InterfaceâActions for Airports Creating human connections along an airport customerâs journey can significantly enhance their experience. Dignity Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, con- ducted a survey at airports, which found that three out of four travelers had done something kind to make another travelerâs day better; more than half of travelers felt happier after per- forming that act of kindness; and nearly all travelers (97%) surveyed agreed that receiving kindness from others, as well as being kind to others, could improve their overall well-being (Dignity Health, 2019). These findings suggest that the level of empathy conveyed through customer interface at the airport can transform a travelerâs experience for better or worse. Customer interface can be improved through the following. 5.8.1 Standardizing Customer Experience Training for All Employees Interfacing with Travelers Standardized customer experience training should be provided to all staff and volunteers interacting with travelers. This training should emphasize being proactive, empathic, and knowledgeable about responding to various traveler preferences and needs. All front-facing staff should be aware of the general airport layout to direct travelers as needed. Expanding the concept of hospitality provided by hotels, cruise lines, and other similar industries can trans- form the customer experience at airports. Employees should be equipped to support the needs of an airportâs traveler segments through training on identifying the behavioral cues of people who appear to be struggling. These behav- ioral cues may include signs of overstimulation or confusion. Employees should be further empowered to use strategies to alleviate anxiety or confusion. 5.8.2 Enhancing the Employee Experience A key differentiator of a world-class airport is the ability to create a memorable customer experience for travelers from all cultures and backgrounds. Aspects of employee experience that will lead to rewarding customer experiences should be prioritized and resources invested accordingly. Some initiatives to enhance the employee experience include the following: â¢ Reward and recognition programs. Providing rewards and recognition for improving the customer experience can translate directly to an enhanced traveler experience. Enhancing employee reward and recognition programs may include â Individual recognition by a supervisor or division. â Public recognition via events, announcements, awards, and so forth. â Private recognition, including written and verbal praise. â Promotions. â Bonuses and reward programs. â Pay increase. â¢ Training opportunities. Provide leadership and development, interpersonal, and cultural awareness training opportunities to airport staff. To deliver an exceptional customer experi- ence, all front-facing staff should demonstrate an adequate level of skills and knowledge for interacting with and serving all traveler segments, from various cultures. Employees should receive the level of customer experience training appropriate for their level of customer interaction. A blended training approach may be appropriate for an airport environment. Employees involved in high-touch customer service should receive more rigorous face-to-face train- ing, whereas employees involved in low-touch customer service can receive online training.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 115Â Â Employees and business partners at the airport have various levels of interactions with cus- tomers. Employees, business partners, and/or contractors involved in high-touch customer experience help and interact with customers daily as part of their job (e.g., ambassadors and service personnel), whereas employees, business partners, and/or contractors involved in low-touch customer experience may not interact with customers on their jobs but will, nevertheless, interact with customers in the terminal building. An airport employeeâs level of customer touchpoints can be determined through a job analysis and consulting the U.S. Department of Laborâs occupational information database. â¢ Annual surveys to measure employee engagement. Employee engagement surveys are critical in assessing and understanding the perceptions of the airportâs most important stake holdersâthe employees. Data gathered from an employee engagement survey can help provide an in-depth understanding of an airportâs strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. The results of the survey can also guide the planning and implementation of initiatives to enhance the customer experience across all areas of the airport. SectionÂ 5.9 discusses employee engagement and talent management in more detail. 5.8.3 Providing Easy Access to Customer Service â¢ Multiple methods for contacting customer service. Provide a customer experience cen- ter to address traveler concerns that is operational during all hours that passengers will be arriving at and/or departing the terminal. For example, Vancouver International Airport offers 24-hour customer service with staff and/or tools that can respond to inquiries in 170 languages. Provide information on the airport website and app. Locate additional information counters, help desks, âhelpâ telephones, or tablets in easily identifiable locations where passengers can find them, such as pre-security, post-security, and in concessions and baggage claim areas. Some form of customer assistance (human, phone, or chat) should be available at each concourse. â¢ Volunteer program. A robust volunteer program can be instrumental in providing adequate levels of customer service. FigureÂ 60 provides examples of airport volunteer programs. The airports mentioned in FigureÂ 60 reward their volunteers with cash cards, brown bag lunches, small gifts on special days, and recognition programs. Orlando International Airport has a paid ambassador program and hires students from the local universities who speak multiple languages as staff/volunteers. In addition, the airport has an Autism Ambassador program to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and various sensory differences. The Autism Ambassadors assist with connecting flights or with missed/delayed flights. Tampa International Airport has a travelerâs aid desk staffed by volunteers to provide guidance to travelers. Chicago O'Hare International Airport invited 150 students to participate as volunteers because some students require community hours. Volunteers serve passengers in wayfinding, responding to questions, answering phones, and as a human resource. Figure 60. Examples of airports with volunteer programs.
116 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience â¢ Virtual assistant. Through the use of holograph technology, airports can provide consistent information throughout the journey using pre-recorded information to respond to common traveler needs. â¢ Use of digital assistants. Refer to Section 4.5.1. â¢ Use of chatbots. Chatbots are applications that use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural lan- guage processing to understand what a traveler is looking for. Users can type or ask a question using voice command, and the chatbot delivers the ârightâ answer, based on existing data. Over time, the application gets better at identifying what the ârightâ answer is. The use of chatbots can help address common and high-volume inquiries. Chatbots can be programmed to direct users to a live interface if the question canât be addressed through the âdatabaseâ of responses. â¢ Voice command applications. Enabling the use of voice command on websites and apps can help alleviate the concerns of senior travelers who find interaction with technology overwhelming. 5.8.4 Staff with Multilingual Capabilities Customer experience centers should include staff adept at multiple languages and/or tools for translating questions into English and responses into various languages to accommodate non-English speaking passengers. As a supplement, information counters, staff, and volunteers might use tablets with frequently asked questions and responses in the most common languages of travelers. Travelers can communicate via this device to get desired information. 5.8.5 Keeping Travelers Informed of Changes and Disruptions Use airport apps, public relations releases on upcoming changes, social media, announce- ments, signage at the airport, and the airport website as required to advise passengers of changes and disruptions. 5.8.6 More Systematic Alignment of Talent Management Practices to Support Customer Experience Goals When properly aligned, various talent management practices tend to reinforce each other in supporting customer experience goals. For instance, customer experience training should pro- vide employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, performance evaluations can motivate employees to display the desired customer service behaviors on the job, and succession planning can ensure that leaders with a strong customer focus move up the ladder. 5.8.7 Creating a Community App to Enhance Collaboration Among Business Partners Gatwick Airport created an airport community app that is accessed via the web by all airport staff, airlines, ground handlers, rental car companies, and other business partners. The app has been very successful in improving the employee experience and enhancing collaboration among business partners.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 117Â Â 5.8.8 Striving To Be a Culturally Competent Airport Cultural factors can play a critical role in the travelerâs experience. A recent study by ACI World suggests that cultural elements influence between 39% and 45% of overall satisfaction scores as measured by the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Survey (ACI World, 2019). This can be a challenge because it implies that customer interface will differ depending on the culture of a traveler. Training employees to be more culturally sensitive to customers and other employees can enhance the customer and employee experience. 5.8.9 Formal Customer Experience Improvement Program Many airports have had a customer service focus for years, but most airports now understand that a more proactive customer experience approach is needed. A formal customer experience program to improve the travelerâs experience must be based on the characteristics of the traveler, the airport, the community, and the existing customer experience and/or service plan. It is not within the scope of this project to outline how to develop a customer experience improvement program; however, if the guidelines are followed, the result will be the start of a formal customer experience improvement program that can be monitored and changed, as needed, every year. 5.8.10 Creation of Customer Experience Councils Since airports are considered community partners, most airports have councils, committees, or task forces that provide advice and sometimes resources to assist the airport. A customer service and/or experience council may include airport staff, business partners, airlines, and the community to ensure a well-rounded point of view. The airport may consider creating customer experience councils for individual traveler segments or personas that require extra attention, such as travelers with disabilities, with representatives from the respective groups. 5.8.11 Use of Customer Feedback Systems The airport needs to provide several different venues for allowing customers to provide feedback. The airport website and/or app should include components enabling people to leave comments and feedback on various journey points. In addition, business partner and airport comment cards should be reviewed to identify issues and pain points. Actions should be taken to correct issues when possible by both the airport and the business partner (or third-party pro- vider). ChapterÂ 6 further discusses tools used to measure the customer experience. 5.9 Talent Management Talent management practices have been implemented by many organizations; however, the airport industry is just beginning to embrace this comprehensive approach to hiring, managing, and assessing employee performance. This element is critical to achieving the desired result of welcoming employees being responsive to airport customersâ needs. This section will discuss the components of talent management from identifying the need for an employee the first time this need emerges to assessment of an employee in a per- formance appraisal. Surveys and studies have demonstrated a strong and indisputable link between customer experience (CX) and employee experience. Organizations that invest in employee experience not only outperform their competitors on customer metrics but are also, on average, four times more profitable (Morgan, 2018). âEmployees will deliver a Customer Experience that matches their own experience in the organizationâ (Maylett & Wride, 2017).
118 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience In the airport context, the experience of airport employees that directly (e.g., CX ambas- sadors) or indirectly (e.g., technology team controlling displays) interact with customers is critically important in contributing to customer experience. When airport employees posi- tively identify with the organization, they are more likely to take the initiative to become air- port ambassadors and engage in effective customer interactions. For instance, knowledgeable airport employees can help customers navigate their journey more conveniently and quickly. The key to harnessing the benefits of the link between employee experience and customer experience is to prioritize aspects of employee experience that will lead to rewarding customer experiences. Also, employees will be more likely to suggest investment in resources accordingly (PwCâs Global Consumer Insights Survey, 2019). In determining which employee experiences to prioritize and where to invest resources, air- ports are encouraged to consider their own unique needs and objectives. However, to assist airports in understanding the concept of employee experience, six key employee experience elements have been identified (see FigureÂ 61). 5.9.1 Create Standards Establishing behavioral standards for employees, using positive behavior interview tech- niques, monitoring employee behavior, and relating behavior to the employeeâs job perfor- mance are the keys to talent management. In their journey, travelers will interact with staff and volunteers who need to adhere to standards that are set for welcoming customers. Job descriptions for employees should include a description of traits desired within an employee. This may require testing potential employees to determine empathy, welcoming Figure 61. Key elements of employee experience.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 119Â Â spirit, and the flexibility to deal with unique individuals in a stressful situation. Behavioral standards must be established for all categories of jobs at the airport, particularly those with customer interactions. Only then can the hiring process begin. The first step in hiring exceptional service employees is to create a behavioral profile of the ideal employee to ensure that the proper skills, EI, attitude, and personality traits are prioritized and captured. From this behavioral profile, standards must be developed that are measurable and realistic (see TableÂ 6). Some airports have been successful at creating and evolving an airport-wide service culture through formalizing universal service standards and behaviors that apply to ALL customer- facing airport employees. In this scenario, it is important to engage the entire airport com- munity in the development of these standards with the following activities: â¢ Holding a leadership summit to foster ownership and commitment and to determine universal standards and behaviors that are expected across all airport disciplines. Effective change must be championed at the highest levels of an organization. Leadership summits help foster ownership of the customer experience, provide an opportunity for input and involvement, and set clear expectations for leadershipâs role in championing the development of a memorable and seamless customer experience. â¢ Developing a CX task force and facilitating a workshop with this team in order to foster a unified, connected service culture and to define behavioral standards that will be used in designing train- ing, measurement, and reward programming. Including employees and stakeholders at all levels creates an inclusive approach to cul- ture change while building commitment to results. This collective approach ensures continuity and buy-in; establishes relationships; and ultimately builds a community of trust, support, and respect. The result is a unified service culture that continually meets and exceeds customer and employee expectations. 5.9.2 Attract and Hire As the first step in the employee life cycle, attracting and hiring the best talent is one of the core steps in trying to improve overall employee performance. Evidence from research has suggested that high-performing organizations have consistently outperformed their competi- tors through successful human resource practices that attract and retain talent (Hiltrop, 1999). Leadership Summit Objectives â¢ Leverage and build organization-wide relationships â¢ Engage executives and key stakeholders â¢ Educate/inform members of the benefits of service culture efforts â¢ Explore the key elements that are necessary to build and sustain an enterprise-wide service culture â¢ Identify the roadblocks that exist to achieving service goals â¢ Establish participants as change agents for successfully navigating the growth and readiness for change â¢ Define customer service standards and behaviors ID EN TI FY IN G BE H AV IO R AL S TA N D AR D S Determine qualities and skills necessary to ensure an employee will provide an elevated level of customer service. Describe behaviors to deliver exceptional service. It is important to define and require traits that will impress customers, such as a âcan doâ attitude, a friendly smile, courtesy, a sense of urgency, and strong conversational skills. Mirror the top talent in the organization. Why do they excel? Are they focused, always on time, a great team player with a positive attitude? Do they manage their emotions well and are they able to handle issues with grace? What are the specific behaviors and attitudes that make them excel? Table 6. Developing measurable and realistic standards for hiring.
120 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience To avoid the cost of turnover, companies need to make an effort at an early stage to attract the talent that fits the needs of the position and follow the steps to be effective in the hiring process (Fong & Kleiner, 2002). In order to reach exceptional levels of customer satisfaction and an elevated customer experi- ence as it relates to employee interactions, it is recommended that the interview process include the following techniques. Behavioral Interviewing The premise of behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future per- formance is past performance in similar situations. Behavioral interviewing is said to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10% predic- tive. Southwest Airlinesâ mantra is âHire for attitude, train for skill,â and behavioral interview- ing helps to reveal the attitude and demeanor of an employee in previous real-life scenarios. The applicantâs response will more realistically reveal skills, abilities, and personality. The logic behind this interview tactic is that a candidateâs behavior in the past may predict how they behave in the future. In a behavioral interview, an applicant is required to give an example from their experience of how they dealt with a particular situation in the past (see TableÂ 7). Emotional Intelligence One of the most important traits that organizations overlook during the interview process is an employeeâs ability to achieve a genuine con- nection of empathy and understanding with their customers through EI behaviors and reading cues. These connections are built on the employeeâs exceptional awareness and emotional skillsâEI. EI is the ability to sense, understand, and react to our own emotions (self- awareness) and othersâ emotions (social awareness). While people all come into the world with emotions, many people do not have or have not honed the ability to carefully and intelligently deal with emotions. The individual and collective ability to make connec- tions and create strong, positive emotions greatly affects how employees view each other, their role as customer service advocates, and the over- all airport experience. Employers are beginning to understand the extraordinary value that establishing EI standards and selecting emotionally intelli- gent employees brings to the overall airport experience. The World During the interview process, it is crucial to seek out and recognize behaviors that demonstrate the applicantâs ability to excel in the following areas: â¢ Self-AwarenessâRecognizing oneâs own emotions â¢ Self-RegulationâKnowing how to control oneâs emotions â¢ MotivationâKnowing how to motivate oneself â¢ EmpathyâUnderstanding other peopleâs emotions â¢ Social SkillsâKnowing how to act appropriately in relation to other peopleâs emotions BE H AV IO R AL IN TE R VI EW Q U ES TI O N S Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situationâhow did you respond? Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or exceed it. Can you provide an example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree? Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks. Can you share an example of a time when you had to deal with an upset customer? o What did you do? o What would you do differently next time? Table 7. Sample behavioral interview questions.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 121Â Â Economic Forumâs Future of Jobs Report (World Economic Forum, 2020) found that EI was considered one of the top 10 job skills for 2020 (as highly in demand as technical skills!). Meanwhile, TalentSmart notes that EI is the strongest predictor of employee performance. Helping employees maximize their EI skills lays the groundwork for improved CX. Inform Candidates of Learning and Advancement Opportunities Compensation is an important factor to nearly half of younger employees; however, what matters more in the current labor market are opportunities to learn and advance (Gallup, 2018). In order to attract the best talent, effective training and development systems must be designed so employees can have opportunities for promotion based on their potential contribution to the team. According to âDeveloping Employee Career Paths and Laddersâ from the Society for Human Resource Management (n.d.), employee development strategies should be integrated into the organizationâs overall strategy and well communicated to potential candidates; other- wise, talented candidates may be discouraged from pursuing a career with the airport. 5.9.3 New Employee Orientation and Onboarding One of the most important factors in increasing the likelihood of success for new employees is the onboarding process. Onboarding is an essential socialization stage where the organiza- tion helps the new employee understand how the new workplace functions. At the same time, the employee seeks information about the new workplace and affirms perceptions about the employer. Organizations that implement a standardized onboarding process enjoyed 50% greater new hire retention (GlobeNewswire, 2011), 62% higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54% higher employee engagement (Maurer, 2015). Gallup Research states that a strong onboarding pro- cess improves retention by 82%. A well-executed orientation and onboarding plan is the first important step along the employee journey. It is also the catalyst for exceptional employee engagement, which is the key driver of exceptional customer experiences. Descriptions of orientation, onboarding, and mentor/buddy programs follow: â¢ Orientation. While all airports have a badging process, they donât always have a formal orien- tation process. At orientation, new hires are formally introduced or âorientedâ to an organiza- tion and its culture, mission, vision, and values and are given a tour of the airport facilities. Ideally, new employee orientation should be conducted on the first day or during the first weeks of employment. The format depends on the size of the organization and the number of employees starting employment. Information can be delivered through presentations and question-and-answer sessions, or it may be a less-formal, one-on-one conversation with the manager. â¢ Onboarding. The onboarding process engages the employee in their new role and familiar- izes them with the specifics of the job; this would include introductions to co-workers and discussion of business objectives, performance expectations, and unwritten rules. Gradually, new employees learn the specifics of their roles and responsibilities, such as how to properly complete key tasks, whom to go to with questions, how to get approval for their work, and how to make suggestions. An onboarding plan should focus on what matters the most to each department, to help new employees make connections between company-wide goals and their day-to-day tasks. When properly designed and executed, orientation and onboard- ing together help to boost employee engagement early on in the employee journey and to establish role clarity, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment, which can help lower employee stress and turnover.
122 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience â¢ Mentor/buddy program. A mentor/buddy program significantly increases the chances of long-term retention by supporting relationships and building momentum. Some stresses and emotions come with a new position. A mentor/buddy is someone who partners with a new employee during their first 3 months on the job. The mentor/buddy is the new hireâs first point of contact (outside of their manager) to connect with resources and valuable informa- tion. The mentor/buddy also provides moral support and helps a new employee transition to the workplace culture. 5.9.4 Training and Development ToolkitÂ 3 highlights steps for developing a comprehensive and targeted training program. Step 1: Identify Training Needs When assessing the training needs of an airport, utilizing a variety of feedback and analysis helps to engage multiple stakeholders and to ensure that training efforts and direction are targeted to the expressed needs and objectives of the airport community as a whole. A needs assessment survey is a critical first step in determining training needs, identifying skill gaps, and targeting opportunities for improvement (see TableÂ 8). Step 2: Identify Skill Gaps The analysis of the training needs data is an important step for identifying and understanding the skill gaps between the current state of customer service and the state of customer service that the organization wants to achieve. It is at this point that leadership can review the analysis of the data, agree on priorities, and determine what skill gaps and service shortcomings the training will address. For successful ownership and buy-in, the results should be delivered to and reviewed by key stakeholders across the organization. To determine training needs, identify skill gaps and target opportunities for improvement Identify skill gaps to leadership and key stakeholders to agree on priorities and determine skill gaps the training will address Use available feedback from travelers to design training Determine type of training, cost, benefit, return on investment, and risk of implementing training vs not Start with a measurable business result and define specific behaviors needed in order to achieve desired results STEP 1 Training needs analysis STEP 2 Identify skill gaps STEP 3 Analyze data STEP 4 Identify training solution STEP 5 Design training (Adapted from Association for Talent Development ) Toolkit 3: Training Program Development
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 123Â Â Step 3: Analyze DataâUtilize Available Customer Experience Metrics Customer feedback data from the following CX metrics may be used to inform the training design: â¢ Employee needs assessmentâconduct a survey of employees and/or managers. â¢ ASQâreview metrics (if subscribed). â¢ Comparative analysis with other airport programs. â¢ Mystery shopping scoresâanalyze and target skill gaps. â¢ Social media monitoringâreview sentiments and emotions and determine common issues. â¢ Intercept surveysâcapture real customer feedback and insights. â¢ Employee net promoter score (eNPS)âunderstand employee satisfaction. â¢ Pulse surveysâreview for additional feedback. â¢ Stay interviewsâglean insights for service skill gaps. â¢ Employee ratings on public websitesâgauge employee experience levels. Step 4: Identify Training Solution To identify the potential training solution, the type of training, the costs and benefits of train- ing, and the return on investment and risk of training will need to be analyzed with a solutions comparison chart. The comparison chart is composed of the possible solutions and options that exist within your organization (i.e., classroom training, on-the-job training, and/or web-based training), as well as the total cost and cost per participant to consider for return on investment. The last consideration is the risk and downside or impact of not implementing the training. Step 5: Design Training Training planning and design should align with the strategic priorities and evolving needs of the current airport environment. There are often a number of roadblocks to overcome in designing training, some of which include budget, time, and availabilityâwith time being the number one barrier. The training approach in an airport environment must fit into the time the employee has available on the job, as well as to the locations available to conduct the training. When designing the curriculum, start with the measurable business result. An example could be an ASQ metric of being courteous and helpful. Next, define the specific behaviors needed in order to achieve the desired business results. What specific behaviors must employees dem- onstrate on the job? How will these behaviors be measured or observed to ensure that they are taking place? Determine what knowledge is required in order to demonstrate the desired on- the-job behaviors. Then decide on the right content solution to improve employee knowledge, change behavior, and drive measurable results (see TableÂ 9). Consider all available modalities that will fit into the day-to-day workflow. An ideal train- ing opportunity when time is a barrier is to hold pre-shift meetings as training opportunities to relay reminders on customer experience etiquette and reinforce proactive customer service. TR AI N IN G N EE D S AS SE SS M EN T SU R VE Y Identify areas of opportunity for training. Assess change readiness and engagement levels of employees and managers. Determine training modalities and best methods for training delivery. Define the training audience. Gather recommendations and innovative ideas. Further develop ideas from task force and leadership summit outcomes. Validate potential learning objectives. Table 8. Training needs assessment survey.
124 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience A job aid or reinforcement tool such as a checklist of need-to-know information to assist travelers is optimal for quick access. The best motivator for continuous learning is when the team sees that the training helps them to do their job better and to succeed in career goals. 5.9.5 Employee Engagement Employee engagement is the extent to which employees invest themselves in the work they do (Kahn, 1990). Engagement is manifested in how employees think and feel about the organi- zation and behave toward it (Saks, 2006). Engaged employees are passionate about their jobs, connected with the organization, committed to organizational goals, and willing to put in an extra effort for the organization (Saks, 2006; Shuck & Wollard, 2009). As a result, engaged employees not only provide greater value to the organization, they also experience a better quality of work-life (Cole etÂ al., 2012; Crawford, LePine, & Rich, 2010). Engagement has become a critical aspect of the employee experience, with employees increasingly seeking meaning in their work, identity with the organization, and relatedness to colleagues. However, as of 2017, only 33% of employees in the United States are engaged (Gallup, Inc., 2018), which is a growing challenge for organizations given the positive impact of engagement on firm productivity, financial performance, customer satisfaction, and the negative impact of disengagementâturnover and absenteeism (e.g., Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002). The link between employee engagement and customer experience has been repeatedly emphasized (CultureIQ, n.d.; Comaford, 2017; Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002; Hastings, 2012). For instance, a case study of Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom showed that initiatives to drive employee engagement led to better customer service and increases in opera- tional and financial performance (Warnock, 2018). To engage employees: â¢ Make engagement a business priority. Treating employee engagement as a business objec- tive and incorporating it into an organizationâs mission, vision, and values statement makes it a strategic priority for the organization and helps build the company culture around engagement (Dale Carnegie Research Institute, 2018; Warnock, 2018). According to the 2018 Global Culture Survey, while 63% of leaders think their culture is strong, only 41% of employees do (PwCMalta, n.d.). Senior leadership at the airport can address such a gap by driving the culture of engagement through their communications. This empowers employees, cultivates positive perceptions toward the organization and senior management, and pro- motes alignment of values with the organization. When senior leaders lead the change and provide opportunities for employees to voice their opinions, employees are also more likely to feel involved and valued (The Insights Group Ltd., 2014). â¢ Emphasize manager engagement. The role of the middle manager cannot be overempha- sized when driving employee engagement. It has been shown that the manager alone accounts D ES IG N IN G T R AI N IN G C O N TE N T Confidence: How can you help improve employee confidence in their new knowledge, so they are ready to apply it in the moment of need? Opportunity: When will employees have an opportunity to practice applying their new knowledge and skills? Feedback: How will employees receive feedback on their performance, including timely coaching from managers? Access: How will employees easily access the solution using technology thatâs already a part of their flow of work? Engagement: What will motivate employees to dedicate time and effort to use this solution? Value: Will employees clearly see how this solution can help them do their jobs better? Table 9. Considerations for designing training content.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 125Â Â for 70% of the difference in team engagement (Gallup, Inc., 2018). Engaged managers com- municate with employees honestly, provide timely feedback, identify individual needs, show support for employee choices, and can play a crucial role in engaging other employees. Mak- ing employee engagement a daily priority, in turn, makes the managerâs job easier (Dale Carnegie Research Institute, 2018). This strategy may involve some training for the manager. â¢ Commit to assessment and evaluation. The organization must commit to a timely process and corresponding program evaluation that will ensure sustainable growth. This can be in the form of annual surveys gauging employee engagement, focus groups, or even one-on-one coaching sessions with the supervisor (Warnock, 2018). Through these, specific target areas to improve engagement can be identified and addressed. Specific to customer experience, customer net promoter score and eNPS can also be measured and compared year-over-year (CultureIQ, n.d.). â¢ Provide opportunities for employee recognition. Engaged employees feel enthusiastic about coming to work every day (Gallup, Inc., 2018). This enthusiasm often translates to going above and beyond what is required on the job. The extra effort and outstanding achievements should be recognized through regular recognition programs such as appreciation lunches, gala din- ners to hand out awards, mass participation events, and so forth. Such events and their pro- motion beforehand can also motivate employees toward high performance and engagement (Comaford, 2017; Dale Carnegie Research Institute, 2018; Hastings, 2012; Warnock, 2018). This strategy can also be paired with developmental opportunities and employee training. â¢ Provide professional development opportunities. The goal of pro- fessional development is to learn and become a better employee, leader, and so forth through industry and subject matter oppor- tunities outside of the workplace. Professional development helps employees continue not only to be competent in their profession but also to excel at the next level in their current or future role. It also allows employees to be more aware of changing trends and direc- tions in the industry. Professional development can build knowl- edge, confidence, and credibility. 5.9.6 Performance Management Performance management is a broad term that covers workplace feedback and evaluation given to employees but also includes develop- mental features such as goal setting and coaching. This process is con- tinuous and entails recognizing, measuring, and developing employee performance to ensure it is aligned with the organizationâs strategic goals (Murphy, Cleveland, & Hanscom, 2019). The performance man- agement process can help organizations link organizational goals and individual goals and make administrative decisions regarding employ- ees and the development of employees (Cleveland & Murphy, 1989). To ensure the success of performance management processes, some practices that airports should institute are the following: â¢ Define good and bad performance. Performance cannot be accu- rately evaluated if airports do not have a clear understanding of what good and bad performance means for someone working in a particular role. It can be helpful for airports to define performance in competencies, which are the behavioral and measur- able capabilities of an employee that are relevant to the organization (Schippmann, 2010). Once defined, performance expectations need to be clearly and consistently communicated Professional Development Opportunities Some development opportunities include training, certifications, executive development, education, and network- ing at industry conferences, as well as committee and steering group opportu- nities available through the following member-based organizations: â¢ ACI â Airports Council International â¢ ACI World â¢ AAAE â American Association of Airport Executives â¢ AMAC â Airport Minority Advisory Council â¢ APEX â Airline Passenger Experience Association â¢ ARRA â Airport Restaurant and Retail Association â¢ CXPA â Customer Experience Professionals Association
126 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience to employees using a variety of channels (e.g., job descriptions, performance appraisal instru- ments, direct communication, and internal newsletters). Equally important, employees should be provided with means and resources to perform well. Finally, airports should ensure that the incentive systems they have in place are targeting desired behaviors and that formal and informal systems of rewards are congruent with the explicitly expressed performance standards (Kerr, 1975). â¢ Train managers and supervisors to assess employee performance. All managers and super- visors reviewing employee performance within an organization need to have a standard understanding of what good and bad performance are and ways to avoid rating biases that contribute to error in performance ratings. â¢ Pair performance feedback with goal setting. Employees are the most committed to goals when they are involved in the goal-setting process and when the goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attributable, realistic, and time-bound) in nature (Locke & Latham, 1990). There- fore, it is recommended that the manager or supervisor help each employee set goals in one- on-one meetings, provide feedback on goal performance on the job, and schedule goal review meetings with employees to discuss and update the goals. 5.10 Technology Technology plays a key supporting role in creating a seamless journey and enhanced experi- ence for the traveler through the automation of various processes. Airports can utilize technology to provide solutions for enhancing the travelerâs experience at each point of the journey. FigureÂ 62 maps the travelerâs journey and provides examples of the supporting technology that may be used at each touchpoint. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 recognized the need for a smart airports initiative to create a more consumer-friendly and digitally connected airport experience. The plan includes providing more efficient check-ins, shortened security lines, Wi-Fi and GPS upgrades, and improved aircraft turnaround times. The airport may use the internet of things (IoT) to enhance the efficiency of processes and delivery of information that support the travelerâs experience. The IoT is a concept that brings enabling technologies together to communicate, aggregate, and analyze data. The IoT can be applied at each stage and across any stage of the travelerâs journey. Assessing gaps in the travelerâs experience and identifying areas where technology solutions may apply or are feasible before implementation is a first step before developing an implementation road map. Travelers no longer view their journey as a set of separate, compartmentalized experiences. They want a seamless, efficient, and more personalized journey, which includes receiving notifi- cations that affect the course of their journey. Technology serves an important role in delivering on this expectation because technology helps to put more control of the journey in the travelerâs hands. For example, travelers can book their tickets online, download their boarding passes, pass through a biometric screening security checkpoint, and board through an e-gate, a seamless process with minimal interaction required. According to research by SITA and as illustrated in FigureÂ 63, satisfaction is higher among technology-using passengers at every step of the journey, with a marked rise at dwell time, on board, and bag collection (SITA, 2019a). While technology can create a seamless experience, particularly for seasoned travelers, data from the research indicates that travelers still prefer human assistance over technology when they have a question, they need help, or there is a disruption in the journey. This finding is also supported by data from a survey conducted by OAG showing that in most instances, travelers still prefer human assistance over technology (see FigureÂ 64). The only instances in which travel- ers had a preference for technology over human assistance were check-in and ticketing.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 127Â Â [Source: Adapted by Research Team from SITAâs E2E Pax Journey (Kaduoka, 2020)] Figure 62. The traveler journey and supporting technology.
128 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience (Source: oag.com) Figure 64. Human vs. automated. (Source: SITA, 2019a) Figure 63. The satisfaction of passengers using technology vs. non-users.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 129Â Â The OAG survey also revealed the types of technology that travelers believe will improve and streamline customer experience the most. In-airport, turn-by-turn GPS directions for navigat- ing terminals and gates; self-service baggage drops; and biometrics-based, self-boarding tech- nology were ranked as the technologies that would improve the customer experience the most (see FigureÂ 65). The student traveler segment in the research indicated a stronger preference for the use of technology over human interaction. This aligns with the findings from the OAG survey, where younger generations were significantly more interested in automation and self-service options compared to the total survey population. Technologies that influence travelersâ experiences have been presented throughout the jour- neys discussed in Chapters 3 and 4. This subsection discusses future technological trends that may be applied throughout the journey. The key technologies that will shape the tools and services available to passengers in the future include cloud services, 5G, biometrics and secure travel tokens, automation, chatbots, and AI. 5.10.1 Digital Displays Audiovisual technologies have been used at airports for some time, but the use of these to transform the travelerâs experience is newer. Digital displays can be used to deliver pertinent traveler information, wayfinding, and entertainment or to memorably welcome passengers. Wireless display systems and mobile totems provide a wireless solution for displaying infor- mation to suit a variety of situations. This includes providing information to passengers on where to go upon arrival, in the event of a disruption, or simply to welcome travelers to their destination. FigureÂ 66 provides an example of how a mobile totem can be deployed. Figure 65. Emerging technologies and process advancements travelers believe will improve the efficiency and customer experience. (Source: oag.com)
130 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience 5.10.2 Artificial Intelligence IATAâs 2018 Global Passenger Survey revealed that travelers want to be able to have access to multiple services in one place, such as purchasing additional services and products with their airline tickets. The use of AI and algorithms enables airports to provide information to travelers when, where, and how they need it. The uses of AI are numerous; some uses, which could address traveler needs identified in this study and keep up with future trends, include the following: â¢ Smart voice technology. Travelers are increasingly using smart voice technology to organize their trips. AI-powered technologies can be a powerful tool in answering travelersâ questions in multiple languages and providing real-time information. â¢ Airport wayfinding. AI could help adapt the wayfinding path to the travelerâs desired desti- nation within the airport, taking into consideration various factors such as disabilities, lug- gage count, and so forth. (Image source: LB Foster ) Figure 66. Example of a mobile totem. (Image source: British Airways)
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 131Â Â â¢ Pushing information. AI can help generate push notifications for personalized promotional offers for concessions (based on a travelerâs preferences and buying habits) or to provide information in the event of a disruption. â¢ Robotics. Robots could be used for customer service, delivering bags, and helping to park cars. â¢ Video analytics. Video analytics could be used for operational efficiencies. 3D cameras and Bluetooth technology can be used to monitor queuing or processes. For example, Hong Kong International Airport uses AI to analyze video data from CCTV images to maintain the sup- ply of trolleys for passengers at different locations (Kaduoka, 2020). â¢ Queue management. Real-time monitoring of traveler wait times can allow management to send additional staff when the wait time surpasses set targets. â¢ Virtual and/or digital assistants. Refer to Section 4.5.1. â¢ Chatbots. Refer to SectionÂ 5.8.3. Behind the scenes, the 5G network infrastructure will provide a dramatic improvement to AI technology and other services and applications to enhance the customer experience. 5.10.3 Biometrics Facial recognition technology is helping to expedite the traveler experience in several areas that have traditionally been chokepoints at the airport. Research participants in this study were asked how they felt about the use of bio- metric facial recognition technology; 33.6% of participants indicated that they would be happy to use it, 43.7% said it wouldnât matter to them, while 22.7% would be unhappy about its use. This compares with a survey conducted by reservations.com that found that 43% of respondents approved of the use of the technology; 32.5% did not approve, even if it sped up the security process; and 25% neither agreed nor disagreed. Finally, the 2019 IATA Global Passenger Survey indicated that 46% of travelers favor biometric identification as a replacement for passports. In the post-COVID-19 environment, the use of biometrics is likely to be accelerated. The uses are numerous: from check-in, bag tagging, and self-service drop-off to security processing, lounge access, retail checkout, self-boarding, CBP, and bag pick-up. In addition to the use of biometrics for health and safety, biometrics can be used to enhance operational efficiency and enhance the use of space, minimizing queuing and allowing travelers to spend more time at retail and dining facilities. FigureÂ 67 displays airports where CBP currently uses facial recogni- tion technology. The key in ensuring a seamless transition for the traveler is the implementation of regulations to protect customer data to address travelersâ privacy concerns. In addition, keeping travelers informed throughout the biometric facial recognition process by letting them know where their information is being used and how it is being protected can ensure that they feel comfortable and secure with the process. 5.10.4 Rethinking and Streamlining Baggage Processing Some options for rethinking and streamlining baggage processing are the following: â¢ Remote bag drop. Research suggests that carrying luggage through the airport can be one of the most stressful elements of the journey. Providing travelers with an option to drop their luggage off before arriving at the terminal can enhance their experience considerably by free- ing them of the additional weight and stress of moving from their arrival point to the bag A key focus for the industry is to take biometric recognition beyond a single airport to a seamless experience across borders and airports. The ambition is to adopt a single, persistent digital identity that is secure, recognized globally and, most importantly, allows the passenger to maintain control over that identity (SITA, 2019a).
132 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience drop. While a number of airports around the world offer remote bag services, the service has yet to take off in the United States. â¢ Smart lockers. Airports may also consider providing travelers with an option to store their hand luggage post-security using smart lockers. This helps to relieve the burden of carrying bags and concerns that luggage may get lost or stolen while shopping and/or dining. This, in turn, may encourage travelers to spend more time at retail shops. â¢ Bag tracking. IATAâs 2018 Global Passenger Survey results indicated that 56% of travelers want to be able to track their bags in real time throughout the journey. The use of RFID- enabled baggage tracking and other technologies have the potential to allow travelers to track their baggage throughout the journey. Providing the status of bags through the journey Figure 67. Airports where U.S. CBP uses facial recognition technology.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 133Â Â including updates, carousel information, oversized and priority bag pick-up locations, and so forth has been found to have a significantly positive impact on the travelerâs experience. However, for baggage tracking to be effective and transform the travelerâs experience, collabo- ration among airlines, airports, ground handlers, and travel service partners must improve. Reliable and up-to-date information needs to be shared in a secure and timely manner. In addition, establishing standards for the processing and delivery of baggage will ensure that all stakeholders are unified in delivering an optimal traveler experience. 5.10.5 Virtual Reality Virtual realityâwhich utilizes computer-generated graphics to create a âvirtually realâ expe- rience for users with sight, sound, touch, and smellâcan help create a personalized experience for each traveler and be used as a powerful tool to improve the customer experience. There are a number of applications of virtual reality in the industry, some of which include: â¢ 360-degree tour of the airport. Refer to Section 3.3.7. â¢ Sizing bags. Travelport, in collaboration with easyJet, uses an augmented reality app that allows travelers to use their phone cameras to determine whether their carry-on bag will fit in the overhead bins (see FigureÂ 68). â¢ Training employees. The use of virtual reality in training programs can immerse trainees in a highly realistic setting where they can practice new skills and adapt old behaviors to various situations. Several organizations have incorporated gaming elements and a points system to
134 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience (Image source: New York Times) Figure 68. Bag sizing using a mobile app. (Image source: GeekWire)
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 135Â Â incentivize employees to take the training several times to improve their skills, which trans- lates to a better experience for a customer in the end. â¢ Retail opportunities. Virtual reality can provide an opportunity for the traveler to view products that are not held in stock by retailers. â¢ Personalized wayfinding. A virtual reality app could be used to guide the passenger to vari- ous locations in the terminal, based on passenger preferences and previous buying habits. â¢ Parallel reality. With parallel reality technology, content can be personalized so that each traveler sees only the information that is relevant to him or her. 5.10.6 Autonomous Vehicles Autonomous vehicles may replace a number of existing functions at the airport to enhance the travelerâs experience. Some of these autonomous vehicles are the following: â¢ Autonomous shuttle service. Autonomous vehicles may be used in the future to provide shuttle service from parking garages or rental car facilities. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is trialing a new autonomous vehicle, âEMMA,â to transport passengers between the parking lot and the terminal (see FigureÂ 69). â¢ Use of autonomous mobility vehicles. The use of autonomous mobility vehicles may assist travelers with reduced mobility to navigate the terminal independently. Refer to SectionÂ 4.5.2 for further detail. â¢ Automated guided vehicles. The future may include the use of automated guided vehicles to transfer travelers between terminals, addressing the need for a more efficient and seamless transit between flights. â¢ Autonomous cleaning robots. The use of autonomous cleaning robots may help clean large areas of terminal floors. For example, at its terminals, Singaporeâs Changi Airport currently deploys cleaning robots that cover up to 17,222Â square feet per hour (see FigureÂ 70). 5.10.7 Bluetooth Beacons According to a 2019 OAG survey, 54% of travelers surveyed believe that the most help- ful improvement within the terminal is turn-by-turn GPS navigation to the gates. Bluetooth beacons track passenger flow and assist passengers in navigating the terminal, including pro- viding information on the nearest restroom facilities and dining and retail options based on their current location. This puts more control in the travelerâs hands and helps them feel more at ease. (Image source: DFW ) Figure 69. EMMA.
136 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience Beyond assisting with navigation, Bluetooth beacons can also provide valuable informa- tion about where travelers are dwelling, which places they are visiting the most, where they are headed, and the amount of time it takes to get there. This valuable data can be used to help the airport make informed decisions on optimizing the travelerâs experience. 5.10.8 Incorporation of Inclusive Solutions Inclusive solutions anticipate and manage the sensory overload, anxiety, and confusion that are so distressing for many travelers and their families (Krieger, 2020). The use of technologies and innovations such as virtual tours, disability-friendly wayfinding apps, sensory pods (see FigureÂ 71), autonomous wheelchairs, ADA-compliant kiosks, and virtual assistants can help lessen the anxiety often experienced by travelers with disabilities. 5.10.9 Digital Twin At SITA, Digital Twin is defined as âthe virtual replica of a physical assetâ (Kaduoka, 2020). Digital Twin can be used to provide a virtual representation of an airportâs layout and processes, allowing management to review operational data in real-time, historic, and extrapolative views. The immersive 3D interface means data can be displayed and explored in a 3D model on a computer, as shown in FigureÂ 72 (Kaduoka, 2020). Digital Twin indirectly influences the travelerâs experience by allowing the airport to monitor key areas of the journey including the passenger flow through the terminal; feedback on service quality of restrooms; status of key facilities such as escalators, elevators, and moving walkways; security elements; and queuing. Digital Twin may also be used to monitor metrics; raise alerts if metrics are exceeded; and run different scenarios to determine the impact of delays, conges- tion, and so forth on the travelerâs experience. (Image source: Changi Airport ) Figure 70. Minnalâthe latest robotic helper at Changi.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 137Â Â 5.11 Disruptive Events The IATA 2019 survey revealed that 55% of travelers had experienced a travel disruption in the previous 12Â months, and one of the top five passenger priorities was to improve disruption management. A disruptive event is anything that disrupts ânormalâ operations at an airport. Disruptive events can be anything from a minor spill of water on the floor, construction activities, and normal weather delays to a major event such as a shooting incident, severe weather, a pandemic, or an aviation accident. All airports have emergency management manuals, guidelines, and documents that describe in detail all the actions that should be taken during a disruptive event and list the contact person/s in charge. The topic of disruptive events and emergency management has been covered thoroughly in existing manuals, guidelines, and documents. However, what is not adequately covered in these is the topic of managing the customer experience during these events. While there are (Image source: Krieger, 2020 ) Figure 71. Example of a sensory pod. (Image source: Kaduoka, 2020 ) Figure 72. Virtual replica of an airport.
138 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience provisions, for example, for caring for families with children, travelers who are disabled, or older adults, there is little guidance on when to inform the public of the emergency event or how to do so during these events. FAAâs Advisory Circular 150/5200-31C guides airport operators on developing and imple- menting an airport emergency plan (AEP). In the AEP, a variety of techniques is suggested for handling a disruptive event depending on the type and severity of the event. Within the emer- gency response organization responsibility matrix, the second function is communications and the fourth function is emergency public information. The communication function identified first is related to public and private agencies to augment capabilities. It suggests using public information and media to gather, coordinate, and release factual information. Section 4 of the AEP addresses emergency public information and identifies communication such as external media interest. Social media, the airport website, and the airport app are not mentioned as a means of informing the general public of an event. Correctly managing the customer experience during disruptive events can significantly boost public perception of the airport. A clear action plan will guide immediate action to control panic and confusion at events within the airport and communication to travelers through notices, public announcements on the radio and/or TV, and within the terminal. Social media has become one of the methods used to contact the community when possible. 5.11.1 Keep Travelers Informed During Planned Disruptions Some travelers are more sensitive to disruption in routine such as changes in the location of TNC vehicles, parking lot closures, construction, and so forth. Communications must be well thought out, and events that may potentially disrupt routines or expected processes must be communicated as far in advance of occurrence as possible through the airport web- site, airport app, public information releases, social media, and static or dynamic signage in the airport. Construction activities are usually planned well in advance of occurrence; providing infor- mation in advance of the construction period or location is helpful for travelers. Airports may use the website, airport app, and social media to provide this information, as well as issue public relations releases and post signage around and/or at the area of construction. Directional signage and advertising for concessions nearby can be placed on partitions used to cover up construction. Partitions may be used as an opportunity to promote other areas of the airport or terminal features. The IATA 2018 survey revealed services that could help improve the travel disruption experi- ence (see FigureÂ 73). 5.11.2 Provide Assurance That the Airport Is Taking the Steps Necessary to Protect the Traveling Public in the Event of a Major Disruptive Event Some steps to take are â¢ Having a preparedness plan in place that includes customer experience staff. Every air- port has an AEP as required by the International Civil Aviation Organization and/or the U.S. DOT; however, most plans do not include having customer experience staff on the team during the event. Customer experience staff can help to ensure that travelersâ emo- tions, need for transparency, and comfort level are considered in addition to their safety and security.
Factors Affecting the Overall Airport Journey 139Â Â â¢ Keeping the traveling public informed. Reviews of actual events have shown that a lack of communication to the traveling public has resulted in travelers feeling vulnerable. To help reduce travelersâ feelings of vulnerability during a disruptive event, airports can provide travelers with up-to-date, real-time information on the risks; mitigate exposure to the dis- ruptive event; communicate the risk factors; and provide any updates on not entering the terminal or location of the disturbing event. In the event of a disruptive event, the airport should immediately (if known) advise travelers of the threat. Through prominent signage, information on the website and app, and via email, the airport should communicate whom to contact and how to do so if a traveler sees or experiences any indications of a potential disruptive event. Text messaging and social media can also be useful in keeping travelers updated in real time during a disruptive event. A color-coded system may be used to com- municate the severity of the event. Staff and volunteers need to be trained to be aware of the standard procedures and contingency measures the airport has in place to respond to disruptive events. â¢ Adjusting plans for the post-COVID-19 environment. In the post-COVID-19 environ- ment, a more comprehensive plan for containing outbreaks must be developed and included in AEPs. (Source: IATA Global Passenger Survey 2018 ) Figure 73. Services to improve the experience of travel disruption. Effective communication is critical to keeping passengers informed about the safety and health guidelines in place at the airport and helping to reduce anxiety. For example, static and digital messages can remind travelers to maintain physical distance, wear a mask through- out the journey, wash hands frequently, and so forth (see FigureÂ 74).
140 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience 5.11.3 Communication Among Business Partners Communication among business partners during disruptive events is critical in ensuring that the traveler receives real-time information on the factors affecting their journey and expe- rience. The COVID-19 outbreak provides an opportunity for airports and their business part- ners to work more closely together to create a streamlined journey. (Image source: Research Team) Figure 74. CDC COVID-19 guidelines posted in restrooms at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.