Since the Wright brothers first flew Kitty Hawk in 1903, airplanes have come a long way. However, despite the many advantages of air travel, customer service is one of the few things airlines are rapidly tarnishing their reputation over.

From long waits at the airport to rude check-in staff: airline customer service is a universal frustration. A survey by Zogby Analytics and published on 247WallSt showed the seventh most used in the U.S is actually ranked the worst for customer service. Regardless of its apparent popularity, Spirit Airlines ranks at 150th place for customer satisfaction. In other words: last. According to the survey, the best airline to choose is Southwest Airlines. Their “excellent” ratings were 35.96 percent and their “poor” ratings were only 4.63 percent. So what can these low-ranked airlines learn from the findings?

Southwest Airlines didn’t come out on top for no reason. The low-cost airline has earned a reputation of collecting and analyzing data to make improvements in customer service. Starting with their technology. Today, companies are crunching data and use artificial intelligence to determine exactly how angry a customer has to be to bail. In fact, technologies can track how long a customer will wait for a human to answer the phone and how many ads they will tolerate. They can monitor the tone of a customer’s voice. Furthermore, these new technologies also reduced costs by embracing intelligent automation for some of its operations; such as online self-check-in systems, automated passport control, and custom clearance.

Technology aside, it is crucial for any airline company to ensure their customers are well assisted before, during and after their travel.  Mapping the customer journey is where a little customer experience research can go a long, long way:

  • Before the flight: Customers are more likely to take surveys during their waiting time than after the travel. With mobile technology, companies can get in touch with their passengers and get their feedback at all stages of travel through these cost-effective and user-friendly research solutions.
  • During the flight: Perhaps the best time to engage with customers is in mid-air. Gaining valuable feedback from the travelers on their in-flight experience like seating comfort and crew etiquette gives airlines valuable knowledge on what customers would love to have that enhances their in-flight experience.
  • Post flight: How was your flight? Like it or not, your customers have an opinion. Listening to what they have to say online is a great way to manage your online reputation and see the business operations through your customers’ eyes.

While a recent study by the University of Nevada, Reno, claimed that airline profits are unaffected by poor customer service, research shows that on average, each US airline forgoes $1.4 billion in annual revenue by not improving customer experience (CX). Which leads to the question: Can you afford not to invest in customer experience research?

If it isn’t already, streamlining customer service must become a top priority for airlines, as studies repeatedly confirm that superior customer service will give a business a distinct competitive advantage. With a host of next-generation technologies and omni-channel customer research solutions available, businesses can deepen their relationships with its travelers and begin to surpass customers’ expectations.

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