London, UK. 25 September 2017. The findings of a unique international study into whether airlines are meeting the exacting expectations of their passengers, have just been revealed by Clarabridge, the customer experience technology specialist. Amongst the key findings: almost two thirds (73%) of respondents have never submitted a complaint or feedback to an airline about their travel experience, however, of those that have submitted feedback, well over half (59%) reported that they were handled positively.
The survey was commissioned by Clarabridge and took in the views of 2491 people aged between 18 and 59 in the UK, Europe and US in July 2017. The intention was to understand the true behaviours and attitudes of air travel customers so that airlines can identify actionable takeaways for enhancing customer experience.
When those who had not provided any feedback to an airline were asked why, 31% of UK passengers said it was because they didn’t believe that airlines were listening. Digging deeper into the research it was revealed that 33% of customers reported that their complaints were ignored.
“We believe that airlines do take passenger feedback very seriously,” said Dale Roberts, VP Professional Services, EMEA at Clarabridge. “However, this is possibly not being acknowledged where customers are concerned, even with a simple response. They clearly need to feel heard and our solutions can help airlines to implement response mechanisms that will improve customer experiences with airline brands.”
Another interesting finding was that whilst passengers tended to pick an airline based on hard factors such as price and flight times (60%), 8 out of 10 (80%) who would be prepared to recommend a particular airline, cited staff attitude and easy procedures as most important factors. In addition, 41% said that they would remain loyal to a particular airline because of the friendliness of flight staff and agents. Clearly, those airlines that ensure policies, procedures and staff training embody an attitude of friendliness will win out when it comes to securing customer allegiance in the future.
The impact of digital transformation was very apparent when it came to how customers prefer to provide feedback, with 46% doing so via email and 11% via social media. When it came to making a complaint in the UK, 9 out of 10 passengers choose to use a digital channel with only 10% involving a direct person-to-person interaction. In addition, 64% chose to check in either online or through an app and when asked how they would like to be kept informed, or updated about flight delays, 43% wanted a text, and 15% preferred an email.
“It is more economical for airlines to service customer queries using digital channels, and this would seem to suit customer preferences,” continued Dale Roberts, VP Professional Services, EMEA. “If an airline has not already done so, now would be a good time to improve their technical infrastructure to enable feedback using social media or possibly a dedicated app.”
Whilst a quarter (25.3%) of passengers in the UK have no particular loyalty to an airline, the brand that stood out for providing most satisfaction was British Airways, with easyJet coming in second place and Virgin in third. Surprisingly, given recent headlines about cancellations, Ryanair was in fourth place followed by Air France – KLM in the list of 16 airlines.
Interestingly, given that no-frills services are upping their game in meeting customer expectations, nearly three quarters of UK customers said that they detected that crew members treated first class travellers better than other passengers.
“What the findings really show is that it’s the people factor and easy, digitally-enabled procedures that make the biggest impact in terms of how customers feel,” said Roberts. “Airlines have the opportunity to differentiate themselves by paying close attention to what passengers really want, and it could be as simple as consistently friendly staff who listen to them regardless of how much they paid for their seat.”
Clarabridge works with multiple brands to help them understand and improve the experience they offer to customers. The company has a range of solutions from analytics that enable closer listening and inform actionable insights through to tools that empower ‘social’ customer service teams. The key objective is to assist organisations in using feedback to create happier customers.
Clarabridge has put together a report that captures the survey results and includes useful tips including how airlines can hone their response to customer feedback, how they can improve their technical infrastructure to fully support digital communications and the routes to building customer loyalty. The report can be downloaded here.
Clarabridge’s SaaS customer experience management solution helps hundreds of the world’s leading brands put customer feedback to work. Offering the most comprehensive solution for omni-source listening, accurate customer and text analytics, and real-time, guided action is why leading brands trust Clarabridge to power their CX programs and drive a customer focused strategy. The result: better customer experiences. For more information, visit www.clarabridge.com.
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