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141Â Â Measuring the Customer Experience Airports frequently measure customer satisfaction in relation to functional aspects such as passenger processes, airport facilities, and customer services; however, the emotional aspects of the customer experience are rarely measured, if at all (Shapiro, 2018). The majority of the existing benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) related to customer satisfaction are composed of hard metrics such as the number of customer complaints monthly. Standardized and industry-wide tools in these areas remain limited. In addition, these benchmarks are overly general to be of any real value and are unable to effect concrete actions in achieving a superior customer experience. Chapter 6 offers several benchmarking methodologies and tools that address some of these challenges and that an airport may use to measure its performance internally and against other organizations within and outside of the aviation industry. These methodologies and tools, which will be discussed in further detail in this chapter, include the following: â¢ Internal benchmarking. This allows the airport to compare itself against its own perfor- mance goals. â¢ External industry benchmarking. Surveys conducted by organizations such as ACI, J.D. Power, and IATA to determine the customer satisfaction level allow the airport to compare itself with other airports that participate in the same surveys. â¢ Creative benchmarking. This provides a methodology for the airport to meaningfully compare itself with other airports, as well as with organizations in other industries that share similar characteristics by using âlike with likeâ data. There are four key steps in measuring the customer experience, which are summarized in Toolkit 4 and detailed following the toolkit. 6.1 Step 1: Gap Analysis Chapter 2 discussed the journey-mapping process and the variations and additions that can be created to understand the customerâs perception of the airport experience. A key component of the journey-mapping process is an assessment of customer experience gaps, which involves the identification of gaps between the following: â¢ The travelerâs perception of their current customer experience vs. their ideal customer experience. In order to meet or exceed expectations, airports need to understand any gaps between the travelerâs ideal customer experience and their current experience. â¢ The travelerâs perception of their current experience vs. the airportâs perspective of the travelerâs current experience. â¢ The travelerâs perception of the ideal experience vs. the airportâs perception of the ideal customer experience. C H A P T E R 6
142 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience These gaps in perspective are illustrated in Figure 75. The gaps are indicated by the edges of the large triangle as the difference between stakeholder perspectives. When performed well, a gap analysis can provide a holistic understanding of the barriers to achieving the desired customer experience. A gap analysis includes the following key tasks: 1. Collect and analyze data to determine the current state. 2. Determine the root causes of the issues identified. 3. Identify and develop an action plan to close the gaps. 6.1.1 Data Collection Identifying the Travelerâs Current Experience Versus Ideal Customer Experience Bridging the gap between the travelerâs current perception of the customer expe- rience and the travelerâs ideal experience requires an in-depth understanding of the travelerâs experience throughout the journey. This entails an analysis of the existing data that includes the following: â¢ A review of all the available customer service/customer experience data such as internal and external survey data, focus group data, comment cards, social media data, website feedback, technology-based feedback, and so forth. Utilizing a variety of quantitative and qualitative data sources provides a greater degree of confidence in the interpretation of results. Monitoring progress regularly will determine if interventions are working or whether adjustments need to be made â¢ Create a benchmarking working group â¢ Establish benchmarks Internal benchmarks External benchmarks Creative benchmarks â¢ Identify key performance indicators â¢ Review data sources â¢ Assign ownership â¢ Review mission, vision, goals, and objectives to determine alignment â¢ Develop departmental goals and objectives â¢ Collect and analyze data â¢ Identify root causes of issues â¢ Identify the gaps in perceptions STEP 1 GAP ANALYSIS STEP 2 ALIGNMENT OF MISSION, VISION, GOALS, AND OBJECTIVES STEP 3 ESTABLISH BENCHMARKS STEP 4 MONITOR AND EVALUATE PROGRESS Toolkit 4: Measuring the Customer Experience
Measuring the Customer Experience 143Â Â â¢ A review of the data to identify patterns or certain areas that need to be reviewed and/or improved. Focus on physical infrastructure, processes, and people systems where there are larger gaps and high stress levels and where the airport has greater control. â¢ Identification of areas where additional data may need to be collected. â¢ Identification of responsible parties for delivering the services in the identified areas of concern. â¢ Identification of persons responsible for responding to traveler concerns, where applicable. Identifying the Airportâs Perspective of the Travelerâs Current Experience and the Airportâs Ideal Customer Experience Alignment of the airportâs perspective with the travelerâs ideal experience requires assess- ing the airportâs executive leadership, management teams, and employeesâ perspectives on what they believe the travelerâs experience is and what it should be. This information may be obtained through interviews and/or workshops with a sample of members of the executive leadership team, departments, individual employees, and business partners/third-party vendors to develop an understanding. This will allow the airport to reconcile differences between the travelerâs perspective of reality, the airportâs perspective of reality, and the travelerâs ideal experi- ence and take actions to close the gap or provide other remediation. 6.1.2 Identify the Possible Root Causes While gap analyses are valuable, they are not perfect and can miss the target in improving customer experience. If the analysis is not deep enough, the proposed solutions may not address the root causes of the issues identified and miss the complexities behind the issues. For example, if one of the issues identified at the airport is a lack of human assistance, it is important to iden- tify whether this is due to staffing deficiencies, lack of training for airport staff, and/or a lack of employee engagement. When conducting gap analyses, it is, therefore, important to identify the root causes of the issues so that the proposed solutions address the real reasons behind chal- lenges at a particular journey point. While some issues may be beyond the control of the airport, it is still beneficial to identify all the possible causes to determine whether plausible solutions require working with business partners and engaging them promptly. (Adapted from Griffith et al., 2018 ) Figure 75. Leadership vs. customer perception. Comment cards Idea collaboration Meetings Quality assurance audits Focus groups Surveys Social media data Mystery shopping Technology-based feedback Employee feedback
144 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience 6.1.3 Gap Closure The gap analysis may reveal that the desired state of the traveler does not necessarily align with the airportâs perception of the travelerâs current or desired experience. The next step is to develop an action plan to bridge gaps and align the different perspectives. Since the gap analysis may reveal a number of gaps, it is important to start small and prioritize initiatives based on urgency and the expected level of improvement in the overall experience. In many cases, closure of the gaps may require simple solutions such as increasing the frequency of cleaning the restrooms. Other cases require substantial investments, such as building a con- solidated rental car facility. In these cases, a return on investment analysis may be necessary. 6.2 Step 2: Alignment of Mission, Vision, Goals, and Objectives Airports have traditionally developed strategic plans that include general statements and goals for achieving desired customer service and/or customer experience levels. Over the years, it has become clear that the mission, vision, and strategy do not always translate into actionable goals and objectives at departmental levels. In order to achieve sizable improvements in cus- tomer experience and hit benchmarking targets, the entire organization must understand the purpose and intent of the mission, vision, and strategy as related to customer experience and their application to the specific job responsibilities of departments and individuals. Alignment of the organizationâs mission, vision, strategic goals, and departmental objectives is critical to ensuring unified messaging and actions across the airport in creating a better cus- tomer experience (see Figure 76). Using the results of gap analysis and the airportâs strategic plan, specific goals, objectives, and benchmarks should be developed at each department level within the airport. These should then be translated into a set of simple standards or principles to guide behavior down to the front line. 6.3 Step 3: Establish Benchmarks Benchmarking is a continuous process of improving performance through the identifica- tion and measurement of gaps between current performance and desired performance (Salem, 2013). The benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) developed for each objective can provide data to help the airport measure progress toward achieving the desired customer experi- ence and encourage departments to work more closely together. As mentioned in the discussion on journey mapping in Chapter 2, benchmarks and KPIs can be overlaid on the journey map to help track progress. Figure 76. Alignment of mission, vision, goals, and objectives.
Measuring the Customer Experience 145Â Â A working group composed of members from the various departments responsible for deliv- ering the customer experience should be established to obtain organizational buy-in and more effectively communicate strategic goals, objectives, and benchmarks to everyone across the organization. The initial working group can be the same as the group assigned for the journey- mapping process, with additional members brought on if needed. The working group should be responsible for establishing consensus on specific benchmarks and assigning ownership. The staff overseeing the benchmarking program should be empowered to ensure that actions identified during the gap analysis are accomplished on time and as planned and that departments are monitoring and measuring their success in regularly improving the customer experience. The following describes internal benchmarking, external industry benchmarking, and creative benchmarking. 6.3.1 Internal Benchmarking Internal benchmarks allow an airport to track its performance from its current state to a desired state over a period of time. The following is an approach to establishing internal benchmarks: â¢ Define measurable objectives. This is a statement of measurable objectives at the depart- mental level that the airport wants to accomplish. â¢ Identify benchmarks. These establish measurable performance goals over a period of time. â¢ Identify KPIs. These are actionable indicators used to gauge performance toward achieving an established benchmark. KPIs need to be evaluated to determine a baseline against which performance can be measured (Papagiannopoulos & Lopez, 2018). â¢ Establish data sources. Establish existing and new data sources to track progress toward achieving objectives. The following utilizes two examples of influential factors in the overall customer journey: customer satisfaction and employee engagement to illustrate the benchmarking process. How- ever, other factors influence the journey as wellâairport cleanliness, queuing, technology, and wayfinding among others. Individual benchmarks for these factors should be developed at each journey point. Customer Satisfaction Benchmarks There are several distinctive benchmarks that an airport can utilize to measure customer satisfaction in addition to the more commonly used customer experience benchmarks. These are mostly unique to each airport since each airport has its own methods of data collection and measurement. One of these involves using sentiment and emotion analysis information to identify specific pain points that impact the overall customer experience. This type of analysis is useful because it can help the airport to identify the root causes of negative feedback, conduct a quick and early evaluation of new initiatives, or sound an âalarmâ that brings more attention or resources to a specific passenger concern or issue. This topic is discussed further in Appendix C. Another key benchmark to effectively measure the customer experience is the Net Promoter Score. It is calculated based on answers to a key question, âOn a scale of 0â10, how likely would you be to recommend [company] to a friend or colleague?â using a 0â10 point scale. Respon- dents are grouped according to score. Respondents who provide scores of 9â10 are promoters (loyal and enthusiastic customers), those who provide scores of 7â8 are passives (satisfied but unenthusiastic customers), and those who provide scores of 0â6 are detractors (unhappy cus- tomers). The net promoter score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
146 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience Employee Engagement Benchmarks Through collecting employee engagement metrics and understanding employee experi- ence, airports can leverage the connection between employee engagement and customer experience to enhance business outcomes. Combining different metricsâsuch as conducting employee stay interviews, regular pulse surveys, and a more comprehensive annual engage- ment assessmentâcan offer airports a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the areas that employees are happy about and the areas where change is desired. This allows airport leadership to make informed decisions regarding employee experience and ultimately enhance the overall customer experience. No matter which employee engagement metrics are utilized, it is important to thank the employees for their participation and communicate the high-level results. It is also important to identify a few key areas on which to focus and improve and to communicate to employees the actions needed to address areas of concern. Communicating back to the employees on the results of the recommendations made and actions taken ensures employees that their voices have been heard and sends the message that the organization is committed to improving the work experience. This creates a positive loop by enhancing actual engagement and encouraging more participation in future engagement efforts. The most common way of measuring employee engagement is through surveys, and many organizations tend to roll out a large-scale employee engagement assessment once a year (or every several years) to gauge their employeesâ commitment to and satisfaction with the organi- zation. One-time surveys are only part of the process of understanding employee engagement. Additional measures should be considered to better understand engagement and, more impor- tantly, to act on it and leverage it to meet organizational goals. Department-level meetings that provide opportunities for employees to engage in resolving issues and providing feedback result in employees feeling more responsible for outcomes and participating more positively in achieving organizational goalsâincluding customer experi- ence goals. Attentive managers can become more attuned to the health of employee engage- ment within the department, which translates to overall organizational awareness of employee engagement. Several other methods and benchmarks shown to be effective in assessing levels of employee engagement and identifying factors that drive engagement and disengagement among employ- ees are presented in Figure 77. Figure 77. Methods and metrics for assessing levels of employee engagement.
Measuring the Customer Experience 147Â Â Table 10 provides a template for creating customer satisfaction and employee engagement benchmarks and KPIs. The numbers are for illustration purposes only, and each airport will need to determine its actual benchmarks and KPIs based on prior performance and desired goals. ACRP Report 19: Developing an Airport Performance-Measurement System (Infrastructure Management Group, Inc. et al., 2010) outlines some other performance areas to be measured (see Table 11). Objectives Benchmark KPIs Method of data collection Owner Customer Experience Improve overall customer satisfaction 5% improvement in customer satisfaction score within 1 year Sample KPIs â¢ Track 100% of customer complaints and âcloseâ at least 85% within 24 hours â¢ Provide at least 4 hours of customer experience training annually to 100% of new and existing employees with high customer touchpoints â¢ Wait times do not exceed 10 minutes at any queuing point â¢ Employees demonstrate competency in customer experience â¢ Feedback from customer service survey and comment cards indicate no greater than 10% dissatisfaction with overall customer experience â¢ Receive 10% fewer complaints from airport public within 3 years â¢ Apply journey mapping regularly to understand customersâ needs and perceptions â¢ Airport-wide customer experience surveys â¢ Comment cards â¢ Social media analysis â¢ Queuing analysis â¢ Employee assessment scores Improved sentiment scores on social media Net promoter score higher than 35 Employee Engagement Highly engaged employees Employee net promoter score (eNPS) â¢ â¢ â¢ â¢ â¢ â¢ â¢ â¢ No less than 40 in eNPS/3% increase in eNPS Hold quarterly employee recognition programs 5 more new nominations in employee recognition 1% reduction in turnover rates 2% decrease in absenteeism No less than 60% response rate on annual employee engagement survey and pulse surveys Communicates high-level results to employees within a month of engagement effort Company overall rating no lower than 3.5 on employee review websites â¢ eNPS â¢ Pulse surveys â¢ Stay interview â¢ Annual employee engagement survey â¢ Ratings and reviews on employee review websites (glassdoor.com and indeed.com) Participation rate in engagement efforts (e.g., pulse survey) Employee engagement scores Table 10. Template for creating benchmarks with examples. Service quality Customer value Customer satisfaction a. Terminal Cleanliness a. Signage User-Friendliness of Terminal a. ACI/ASQ Survey Rank b. Concessions Quality and Variety b. Number of Carriers Serving the Airport/Number of Direct Destinations b. J. D. Power Rating c. c. Security Timeliness c. Customer Complaints Ground Access Availability (bus, rail, taxi) Table 11. ACRP Report 19 performance areas.
148 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience ACRP Synthesis 48: How Airports Measure Customer Service Performance may provide additional insight into appropriate benchmarks (Kramer & Bothner, 2013). 6.3.2 External Industry Benchmarks Organizations such as ACI and J.D. Power provide readily available external benchmarks through surveys, studies, or handbooks. One such resource is the recently issued Passenger Facilitation Performance Metrics Handbook (ACI, 2020), which offers key tools for airports to manage the flow of passengers and baggage while meeting or exceeding passenger expectations. Airports participating in surveys through these organizations can use these benchmarks to see how they compare to other national and international airports and to establish benchmarks to improve customer experience in different areas of their journey. Additionally, airports may elect to compare themselves with other airports using established industry benchmarks and/or initiate a group of âlikeâ airports to agree to share information within the group for comparative analysis. For example, Miami International Airport initiated a 10-airport gateway âgroupâ to share information with âlikeâ airports for comparative analysis. External benchmarks are recommended for determining the gap between the current state of an airport and that of other comparable airports, as well as to track progress toward improve- ments in rankings and other areas. 6.3.3 Creative Benchmarking Typically, organizations benchmark their performance against competitors who either are industry leaders or are recognized within the industry for their âbest practicesâ on specific per- formance indicators. However, when organizations are compared based on factors not routinely measured within their industry, the challenge lies in obtaining comparable data and making meaningful comparisons. Creative benchmarking is a process that enables organizations to make such meaningful comparisons with organizations outside their industry by leveraging readily available data (Iacobucci & Nordhielm, 2000). As U.S. airports increasingly adopt a customer-centric focus, they are often constrained by a lack of established metrics on a wide range of factors that contribute to exceptional customer experience, since some customer experience metrics are not routinely evaluated in the airport industry. Comprehending and measuring a complete airport customer experience requires capturing both direct drivers (e.g., customer satisfaction) and indirect drivers (e.g., employee engagement, organizational practices, and leadership effectiveness) of customer experience. Figure 78 sums up the key drivers of customer experience as organizational effectiveness, leadership effectiveness, and employee experience. These factors need to be considered to truly measure and understand an airportâs level of customer experience. Figure 78. Key drivers of customer experience.
Measuring the Customer Experience 149Â Â The creative benchmarking method, therefore, collects data from the customersâ perspective (through the use of social media analysis), the employeesâ perspective, and the organizationâs perspective, and integrates and synthesizes these data holistically. Gaining access to this wider and more in-depth range of customer experience data requires supplementing traditional data collection methods (e.g., surveys, focus groups, and customer comments) with newer and more innovative methods such as social media analysis, data analytics, and people analytics. While gathering and analyzing data on non-traditional metrics in the airport industry, air- ports can consider the creative benchmarking process as a way of comparing with and learn- ing from the best-in-brand organizations on customer experience. The creative benchmarking approach makes comparisons across industries possible, given the almost impossible task of collecting primary metric data from vastly different organizations. Results from creative bench- marking will provide a new perspective on airport customer experience and help address key customer concerns with practical and innovative solutions from best practices and leading organizations. Airports can apply these techniques to their own organization or create a new approach based on ideas gathered. The creative benchmarking exercise can provide U.S. airports with a competitive advantage in innovation and in enhancing the customer experience. In addition, creative benchmarking utilizes social media data, media data, and information that can be readily found online, making it a feasible practice for all airports. Appendix D guides users on conducting the creative benchmarking exercise to enable comparison of airports with other airports/organizations. Appendices C, E, and F provide additional tools and resources to help airports become competent in performing creative bench- marking and using social media and media analytics to enhance their customer experience practices. Social media and media analysis allow airports to capture customer voices in as close to real time as possible. This information can be used to make better-informed decisions that will ulti- mately benefit both travelers and airports. Furthermore, airports can use this information to not only assess travelerâs preferences, attitudes, and behaviors but also to diagnose problem areas, identify root causes of negative customer experiences, and evaluate new and ongoing programs and initiatives from the travelerâs perspective. Most importantly, airports are encouraged to use this information to engage in conversations with their travelers, design less costly but more effective targeted interventions, and empower airport employees to incorporate data insights into their daily decision making. 6.4 Step 4: Monitor and Evaluate Progress Benchmarks and KPIs provide a great tool to measure and improve customer experience and employee engagement. However, constant evaluation of the progress is essential to determine whether interventions are working and whether adjustments need to be made. Therefore, it is important to determine whom within each department, in addition to the working group, will monitor the benchmarks and provide progress reports every month. Department directors should review the progress of specific benchmarks monthly with the appropriate department staff or contractor. Traditional methodologies include the following: â¢ Observation of passenger flow, contractor, business partner, and/or staff and volunteer behavior related to specific benchmarks. â¢ Reviewing customer comment cards, customer service survey results, and website and/or airport app comments and share with business partners and/or staff responsible for the benchmarks associated with these items.
150 Evaluating the Travelerâs Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience â¢ Conducting customer focus groups (onsite or virtually). â¢ Using technology to receive instant feedback. â¢ Monitoring social media results and responding to comments. â¢ Reviewing the results of the ASQ or J. D. Power survey. â¢ Reviewing customer interaction surveys. Some newer methodologies for collecting data and monitoring progress, in addition to social media, are presented in Figure 79. The results of benchmarking will allow airport executives to take a proactive approach and make informed decisions regarding improvements needed for the airport to improve the cus- tomer experience. Measuring progress through the KPIs will assist in identifying whether the gaps are being closed. Individual departments and business partners must be held accountable for specific actions for improvement. Internal messaging can help communicate and reinforce established benchmarks for service standards to airport staff, whereas external communica- tion strategies can drive perceptions of excellence and communicate these high levels of service standards to the public and stakeholders. When all messages and processes are aligned, guests arriving at and departing from the airport will enjoy a seamless customer experience. Table 12 summarizes the benchmarking process in the form of a checklist. 6.5 Potential Barriers to Implementing Benchmarks and Methods for Improving Success Although benchmarking can be an effective tool in measuring and improving customer experience, there can be some barriers in implementing benchmarking. Some of the potential challenges and methods for improving benchmarking success are presented in Table 13. Los Angeles International Airport is using happy/unhappy face monitors to measure traveler sentiments about strategic touchpoints at the airport. The technology provides further options for the traveler to explain why they picked a particular sentiment. For example, press the red âunhappy face,â and youâre presented with a list - does the bathroom need more toilet paper? etc. (Wells, 2019). Birmingham Airport has implemented a âVoice of the Customerâ bespoke feedback system that submits in-depth feedback in real-time. Feedback can be submitted through instant feedback touchscreens, QR codes, and feedback forms. Jan Richards, head of insights and planning at Dublin Airport, is charged with improving the passenger research and using it with journey mapping to understand how the passenger feels. Dublin interviews passengers on an almost 24/7 basis throughout the journey, totaling 20,000 passenger interviews. In addition, a customer satisfaction monitor gives them information on passenger satisfaction levels through most of the journey. Munich International Airport used a âshadowingâ approach to gain a deeper understanding of their passengersâ behaviors. This entailed observing 205 passengers and visitors as they traveled through the airport and also having them participate in the interview at the end of the journey. Journey- Mapping Approach Shadowing Real-Time Feedback Figure 79. Innovative data collection methods.
Measuring the Customer Experience 151Â Â Activity In place Progress Completed Comments 1. Alignment of strategic goals with department goals/objectives 2. Determine specific benchmark objectives to be quantified 3. Link individual performance or department performance to goals/objectives 4. Communicate objectives to those responsible for achieving them 5. Identify resources needed to achieve desired objectives 6. Define methodology to determine if objective is achieved through benchmark 7. Determine any other departments or individuals contributing to achieving objectives and collaborate with them 8. Gather data and analyze data to determine any gaps that need to be closed 9. Determine actions and responsible parties that may be needed to close any gaps 10. Monitor benchmarks (KPIs) monthly and adjust actions as required Table 12. Benchmarking checklist. Table 13. Potential barriers to benchmarking and methods for improving success. â¢ Data collection: Some airports may not have a central repository for collecting customer service data. â¢ Change management: It is not unusual to experience reluctance to collecting and reviewing data regarding the current state of the organization. â¢ Expectations and goals can sometimes be unrealistic. â¢ Change may not be equally valued across stakeholders. â¢ Launching the benchmarking program requires a significant time commitment and resource investment. â¢ Breaking down organization-wide communication barriers can sometimes be challenging. â¢ Organizations facing change can experience âanalysis paralysis,â and look for perfect solutions. â¢ When change efforts are initiated, sometimes the team does not have the required skill set to effectively implement the plan. It is important to evaluate the skill set of the implementation team to make sure the organization is appropriately staffed. â¢ Consolidate data through a customer experience data management tool. A well-designed and well-implemented customer experience data collection initiative will augment the established standards and further guide the airport toward a customer experience mindset. â¢ Airport leadership support and integration of the benchmark goals as an accountable action will help motivate staff in achieving the benchmark goals. There may be some resistance to change. â¢ Create realistic and achievable goals. â¢ Relate performance appraisals of airport staff to achieving benchmarks. â¢ Identify the sources and causes of possible resistance from the beginning. â¢ Relate performance requirements of contractors and business partners to contractual requirements to achieve specific benchmarks. â¢ Determine resources that may be required. â¢ Conduct a simple cost/benefit analysis of resources required versus expected results. â¢ Increase collaboration and communication between departments on various initiatives to break down silos. â¢ Create a working group across departments to help break down any silos. â¢ Develop a reasonable plan that has support, initiate change and adjust rather than develop a perfect plan. â¢ Consider a staged plan with phases of achievement based on established goals. â¢ Recognition of milestone achievements will help inspire individuals, departments, contractors, and/or business partners to seriously work to achieve desired benchmark goals. â¢ Train staff to be more guest-experience centered and reward employees achieving this behavior. â¢ Provide training and development to enhance required skill sets in general for employees as needed. Potential barriers to benchmarking Methods for improving success