Show them you care.

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After spending years training newbie entrants in Automated Ticketing, Tourism and Soft skills in the field of Aviation, Travel and Tourism, I can’t help but notice the customer service delivered to me everywhere I go, whether I am shopping, dining, or even travelling. I guess the trainer in me still has that ‘Hawk Eye’ when it comes to service.

Great customer service is the holy grail of any business. Competition in the marketplace has made it crucial for businesses to spruce up on not only their hardware but more importantly their software – aka employees.

Having said that, customer service training is and should always be the top priority in organizations having multiple customer touch-points.

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In fact service approach needs to be in the DNA of the organisation. Only if product, policies and strategies are designed keeping customer’s wellbeing in mind that a good service experience can truly be delivered by customer interfacing teams.

Today travellers are more demanding than ever. They have more power than they used to. They are smarter and have higher expectations than ever before. They are more up-to-date and better informed today, as technology has made it easier for them to do their homework.

Smart travellers – empowered travellers – know what options they want hence airlines, travel companies and hotels must be equipped to meet customers on their terms, when, where and how they want.

In the Aviation industry good customer experiences are of great significance. Customer demand is about meeting and exceeding expectations and making the customer feel special with a more personalized experience.

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For example; Emirates, provides the so called ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’, which enables cabin crew to operate with greater efficiency and provide a more heightened level of service to the airline’s customers. This technology enables the crew to know the customer’s preferences and issues that might have occurred during their previous travels thereby enabling the carrier to offer personalized service, unrivalled within the industry and for which the airline prides itself upon.

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Closer home, SpiceJet provides a host of offers like ‘Hot Meals’ on board which is a paradigm shift for Low Cost Airlines. It is a great delight to customers, and a differentiator for the airline. ‘SpiceBiz’ the new Business Class offering at affordable fares, and a premium product called SpiceMax which has spacious seats with extra leg space, complimentary meal, Priority Check In, Bags out first, etc. – all at a nominal charge.

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Eventually the best way to retain your customer is knowing what they need. Courteous staff, ease at checkin /boarding, inflight service, are just few of the ways you can keep your customers happy. Airline Loyalty programs and club memberships offer exclusive benefits such as a complimentary pick up service to the airport and also at the final destination, or a Lounge access card at departing airports to its First or Business class passengers.

Unfortunately, complaining passengers are on the rise. They have complaints, sometimes frivolous, about their journey. A delayed flight for instance has the twitterati in a twist. Passengers start abusing and condemning the airline not realising the reason could be genuine for such delays.

Aircrafts are not supposed to be standing on the tarmac forever. They are supposed to ferry passengers in the air. Most airlines have a tight turnaround time and if the aircraft is delayed from the originating airport for some reason such as inclement weather or offloading the baggage of a gate-no-show passenger, this cartwheels into delays at further sectors.

But people have no clue about the intricacies such as time slots, availability of runways, crew rest coming into effect, and many other factors involved. Passenger safety is of utmost importance to any carrier. And delays are as much a part of air travel as on time performance.

In the past, when customers had a complaint, they’d speak to a gate agent or call the airline. Today, they’re more likely to post about their problem on social media, including Twitter and Facebook — which means the world is watching to see how the airlines react.

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Furthermore today the impact of social media trolls influences the passenger’s choice a great deal. It has therefore become crucially important to have a knowledgeable team at the helm of all Social media platforms, to capture the Voice of the Customer and provide quick, helpful, understanding and encouraging response and support, in a timely manner.

Airlines always keep trying their best to keep their customers happy. For instance, incase of a delayed flight of more than 12 hours, most airlines would offer a hotel stay until the next flight becomes available or rebook/transfer passengers to another airline, space permitting.

Air travel can be a confusing experience for a first time traveler. The customer service team must be able to convey timely and useful information to the passengers through their Apps, emails, WhatsApp, SMS, and other social media channels.

Keeping all customers happy at all times is as elusive as finding a unicorn. Providing flawless service, however, is not always easy.No matter how many customer service surveys are conducted, much of the customer psyche will forever remain of ‘yeh dil mange more’ !.

All said and done, in today’s world of competitiveness, service industry must invoke technology to couple training and fine-tuned SoP’s to deliver top notch, proactive and personalised customer service to keep their customers loyal.

 

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Twitter;Bloomberg;SmartCitiesWorld;Emirates;Spicejet;Future Travel Experience;AfroMum

 

Aviation Cyber Security

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Security has always been the number one priority for all airlines.

Today with enhanced technology, airlines can improve the connectivity of their flight operations and air traffic systems to achieve optimal financial and operational performance. Improved technology also helps airlines to better understand and target their customers.

Things in the aviation industry are changing faster than ever before. Consumer demand for live in flight entertainment choices, and on board WIFI connectivity for mobile devices used for streaming, is increasing and major carriers are bowing to the pressure as companies need to follow the trend to stay competitive.

Cyber security risk is a major concern for the airline industry. Given the highly sensitive nature of flight systems and passenger data, it’s no wonder that airlines are very concerned with how to deal with cyber threats.

And as all this data is stored in cyber space, it gives cyber criminals and hackers more sophisticated technology to perpetrate attacks that can lead to loss of valuable data and cause chaos and distress.

Today most airlines are using Radio (VHF) and SATCOM to connect pilots with ground crews and with airport and Air Traffic Control, leading to greater efficiency, but at the same time it is also leaving a huge gap where they create greater opportunities for cyber attackers and hackers.

While airline security procedures have been effective so far, there are changes in the industry that are creating more access points for hackers including:-

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1)The widespread use of tablet-based electronic flight bags (EFBs); EFBs are particularly popular with pilots as they have taken the place of heavy binders that pilots used to carry onboard.

2) The expansion of in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity systems.

3) The modernization of air traffic control, which uses NextGen to improve network efficiency by using GPS (global positioning system) that is software based and connected to the Internet.

4) e-Enabled ground and onboard systems.

5) Cargo handling and shipping.

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These threats need to be managed in a well planned and holistic manner with airlines closely cooperating with other carriers, hardware and software providers, along with airports, aircraft manufacturer’s and other industry stakeholders, as also their back-office IT, maintenance, operations, and consumer facing systems because failure in one area can affect others.

While an airline’s first goal is to prevent incidents, it is evident that threats in today’s environment cannot be entirely prevented.

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Overall, security procedures to date have been highly effective and airlines are trying to stop attacks from occurring both on the ground and in the air.

But without any uniform industry standards in place, each responsible airline has to consider how to reduce the risk of a cyber attack and how to deal with one when it happens.

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OS: PwC 2016 special report series: Cyber security and the airline industry.
PC: Shutter Stock; Aviation today; TTG Asia ;CTO Vision; Daily mail