Improving airport customer service

By | Category: Travel news

Good customer service is a feature which usually drives customers to return.

Incheon airport, South Korea
Incheon airport, South Korea a perennial winner for customer service and satisfaction.

I write “usually” because sometimes there is no alternative to the service and customers have to use it. Even then, some organisations make efforts to benchmark their customer service policies against similar bodies so that they can determine that their policies are up-to-date with current thinking.

Airports are one group that try to assess its customer service with similar like-minded airports. To do this they make use of the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation Programme (ACEA) run by Airports Councils International – ACI.  

For example it is no use comparing a predominantly business airport like Heathrow with a largely leisure airport like Luton nor is it sensible to compare a large airport like Manchester with a small one like Aberdeen.

Readers will be aware that ACI operates the ASQ programme – Airport Service Quality which is where a couple of hundred thousand passengers per year are interviewed at airports about the attitudes to travelling through airports. Just about Travel regularly brings readers the results of those surveys wondering sometimes where British, Irish and European airports don’t do as well as Far East airports.

The ACEA work expands the ASQ programme by improving and adapting customer service and that has proved in more important during the pandemic. Scenes of crowds at Heathrow did nothing to persuade the travelling public that distancing was being followed or maintained by the airport despite its efforts.

ACI has developed a higher tier level to its ACEA programme in response to the pandemic which involves site verification to prove that what an airport says it has been doing is really being done day in, day out and not just irregularly.

This new Level 4 status has just been reached by Incheon airport in South Korea, an airport which has consistently topped customer service and satisfaction awards run not just by ACI but any number of awarding bodies.

That the CEO of Incheon, Kyung Wook Kim, said that the airport would “…continue to improve its best-in-class customer experience by providing a new and pleasant experience to customers and by adopting advanced technologies in all areas of airport operations based on innovative thinking” is exactly what we would expect from an airport that consistently improves.

But what of UK and Irish airports? How do they fare?

ACI says that two airports are currently following the programme to achieve Level -4 accreditation.

For passengers this is good news as sometimes British and Irish passengers can be forgiven for thinking that with airports there is insufficient choice in routes to be able to switch. That two airports are making the effort demonstrates they still have customer service and satisfaction at the top of their thinking.

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