Thursday, April 4, 2013

Survey Says: Listen to Your Customers!

Today's Wall Street Journal has a long story headlined, 'Dear Airline, Here's the Problem...'

The point of the article is that "some carriers actually pay attention to the results" of their customer surveys.

Imagine: American, Delta, United, JetBlue, or some other carrier asks you to fill out a questionnaire about the flight you just took, seeking your opinion about the service or the meals or the baggage handling, and so on. You, the customer, are happy to give the airline an earful about some glitch, or maybe you have a compliment for a staff member. You submit the survey and you feel good that you've added your voice to the mix. And that's one very good reason to request feedback, says Delta's director of customer experience: to "give people a chance to vent so anger doesn't build up and turn into something more."

American Airlines Is "Listening to Our Customers"
Airlines ask for feedback in a variety of ways. For example, American Airlines has a web page explaining that it surveys 250,000 customers online each month, now in Spanish as well as in English, to find out what passengers like and don't like and to gauge response to new service initiatives. The page also mentions American's social media feedback programs, how it reads customers' letters and e-mails, and its use of focus groups and employee comments to analyze customer satisfaction and needs. 

Outside surveys indicate that in general, the airline industry has a long way to go in improving service and satisfaction.
  • One recent survey found that the airline industry ranks #15 out of 19 industries in customer satisfaction, on average. This Temkin survey says that Alaska Airlines and Southwest Air are tied for best customer satisfaction experience among US airlines.
  • In last year's American Customer Satisfaction Index, United ranked at the bottom of airlines (Southwest and JetBlue were at the top of the list for customer satisfaction, but Southwest's score in 2012 was slightly lower than in 2011.)
  • In last year's J.D. Power survey, results showed that "traditional carriers still struggle to meet travelers' expectations." As of June 2012, the carriers at the top of this satisfaction survey were Alaska Airlines and JetBlue.
  • Deloitte & Touche's recent survey found relatively low levels of customer loyalty among airline and hotel customers, especially problematic because of the money being spent on frequent flier/travel rewards programs.
Given the intense competition among carriers, doesn't it make sense to listen to your customers?

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