With travel operations slowly returning to normal from the lows of the pandemic, airports need to restore consumers’ confidence in traveling again by establishing a customer experience (CX) that evokes safety and trust.

ACI provides research and customer experience services to more than 300 airports in the world, and FeedbackNow is deployed at more than 75 major global airports. Both of our organizations are committed to helping improve passenger experience. In this joint blog post, we share how we improve passenger experience and what we’ve learned.

Airport CX Is Complex!

Airports pose unique CX challenges. First, their sophisticated, multilayered operations resemble miniature cities. A customer’s total experience is the product of many different airport stakeholders — security, baggage handling, and airlines included — necessitating a community approach dedicated to delivering a delightful, seamless passenger experience.

Airports also cater to diverse passengers with different profiles, trip purposes, and expectations of what constitutes a stellar experience. Flexibility and adaptability must become a strategic part of any successful passenger experience.

Finally, airport CX embodies how customers perceive their interactions with an airport. These interactions can be delivered in person, online, or via other channels, many days before and/or after an actual travel event. Together, these diverse and sporadic experiences add up to critical moments of truth that create the overall customer experience.

How Do ACI And FeedbackNow Impact CX?

Collecting solicited feedback at the exact time passengers live the experience is the only way to truly assess the quality of that experience as it moves through all touchpoints of their journey. Knowing when and where the customer was when they felt what they felt is crucial.

ACI and FeedbackNow are committed to improving passenger experience. Because traveling has and always will be adventurous to passengers, their experiences are being shaped every step of the way. With many airports using our solutions side by side, we thought our collective CX takeaways were important to share.

ACI provides research and CX services to more than 300 airports worldwide. Representing the global airport industry since 1991, ACI has successfully established the leading airport passenger service and benchmarking program through its Airport Service Quality (ASQ) surveys. Solutions such as the ASQ Departure, ASQ Arrival, and ASQ Commercial surveys monitor all moments of truth or critical touchpoints and provide a benchmark to help airports deliver memorable experiences.

ASQ surveys and scores assess satisfaction while a passenger travels and experiences the airport. Passengers are randomly selected at boarding or arrival gates for preselected flights. These flights are selected based on destination/origination and carrier to obtain a representative sample of all departures or arrivals. The survey covers all operating hours each day and every month of a quarter, ensuring that resulting samples are both representative of true traffic distribution and allow for the extrapolation of results to all passengers by specific personas. To further help airports and other involved parties be aligned toward a common standard and approach to CX, ACI also recently developed the Airport Customer Experience Management Model, which includes eight key domains: strategy, measurement, operational improvement, governance, culture, service design innovation, community collaboration, and customer understanding.

Deployed at more than 75 major airports worldwide, FeedbackNow is a real-time, comprehensive CX solution that helps airports measure, analyze, and improve on CX feedback in real time across physical and digital touchpoints. These include such service-critical areas as security checks, restaurants, and boarding areas.

Operationally, FeedbackNow allows airports to monitor critical points and react to trends as they happen by sending alerts to the right personnel. They can then take action to improve the situation. Strategically, FeedbackNow allows airports to analyze data over time to better deploy resources and refine operational procedures. Other types of real-time data, including weather, foot traffic, and delayed flights, can be infused into the platform to find correlations between these factors and CX. Understanding these correlations allows airports to be predictive and resolve potential CX issues before they occur.

What Do ACI And FeedbackNow Accomplish Together?

Together, ASQ solutions and FeedbackNow form a powerful combination to help airports deliver optimal passenger experiences. While ASQ solutions dive deep into data to deliver key insights about passenger experience, FeedbackNow can serve as an advanced indicator of ASQ satisfaction scores by showing where problems could arise during each day. Trends can emerge, such as security screening issues in early afternoons, restroom problems on Tuesdays, or restaurant problems when flight delays build up. Addressing these tactical issues reactively, or even predictively, using FeedbackNow can have a long-term impact on overall ASQ satisfaction scores.

We asked our mutual clients to explain the benefits of ASQ and FeedbackNow together.

Per Emanuele Calà, head of innovation and quality at the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome, “They are complementary, and both are a must. ASQ provides an overview of the experience of passengers, while FeedbackNow is a deep dive into specific processes and an opportunity to make timely operational corrections and guarantee the CX every day.”

Ian Cowie, director of customer operations at London City Airport, adds that “the benefit of instant feedback devices is that you are capturing the immediate emotional response of the customer.” Furthermore, “What ASQ gives us with the independent nature of the program is a true benchmark against other airports: How are our customers ranking us compared to other airports? Given the changing dynamic of travel post-COVID, this is really important.”

“FeedbackNow gives us the live sentiment in the airport, a clear picture of what the customer thinks at that time. It’s not just about that customer experience; it’s about stress-testing the balance of the customer experience result against these staffing levels (operational planning).”

What’s Next For Airport CX?

Based on airport feedback, two key areas will influence airport CX:

  1. Getting passengers comfortable with travel post-pandemic and helping them feel secure in knowing that airports are working to protect them
  2. Mid-to-long term, developing seamless travel experiences where factors like digitalization, sustainability, and newer technologies can help ease passenger journeys

Emanuele Calà remarked, “Digital innovations and seamless travel will be challenges to restart, combined with environmental issues and sustainability.”

Ian Cowie had a similar take. “The first part of the future is about putting the confidence back into our customers about safe, speedy journeys and focusing on all the things that we put in place to do just that.”

“Mid-to-long term, it is about the development of the seamless travel experience. There needs to be a lot more digitalization and embracing of the technologies that exist in other environments, too. […] Amazon Go Grocery was an example of simplicity: It is the first grocery store to offer just walk-out shopping — come in, take what you want, and just walk out without going through a cashier. Passengers should not think about check-in anymore ahead of time and where they drop their bag. It should be simple and frictionless.”

ACI and FeedbackNow will continue to collaborate and explore new areas of CX. Understanding ASQ’s passenger-experience big picture across these “mini-cities” alongside the daily, operational trends FeedbackNow provides will yield unique and powerful value for our mutual clients. We look forward to sharing our combined insights again soon.

For more information, please visit aci.aero and feedbacknow.com, or contact us at asq@aci.aero and info@feedbacknow.com.

Dimitri Coll, Airport Customer Experience, ACI World contributed to this post.