By Liliana Petrova, Founder and CEO, The Petrova Experience
As we welcome the new wave of travelers, ensuring safe, seamless experiences is make-or-break for airports in the next 6 months. It is incumbent upon airports to create human-centered experiences that alleviate customer anxiety and transform passengers into advocates for travel. To do this, airport operators must serve passengers differently, both in the terminal and online. But where do you begin? You can start by making a Post-Covid Customer Experience Action Plan.
The first step of the Post – Covid Customer Experience Plan is a CX Assessment -a comprehensive evaluation of the experience you currently offer.
Before you start your CX Assessment, do a mindset check. Do not think like yourself. For you, the terminal is your second home. Instead, think like an anxious traveler who has not been in an airport for a year, who may still have doubts that she/he should be there at all.
This is not merely an ideation exercise; it should involve interviewing customers to hear their voice and spending time in your terminal and on your website as if you are traveling that day. Divide your assessment into sections: Communications and Hospitality; Services and Entertainment; and Amenities.
Digital Experience: Build Connection and Alleviate Anxiety
Think about being at home, ready to make your first trip of 2021. Check your airport website. Is your website language alleviating or increasing anxiety?
Can you easily find:
1) information about airport expectations and/or regulations regarding masks, concessions working hours, suspended services, etc.
3) updates on airport construction projects
4) relevant wayfinding information
Physical Experience: Strengthen Connection and Promote Confidence
Next, examine the physical experience. Walk through the terminal as if you have never flown out of your airport. How clear is the wayfinding?
Now, think about the service changes to travel following COVID. Do you have any kind of substitutes for the in-person volunteers? Digital/self-service concierge solutions, virtual volunteers, even robots that roam the airport are all ways for your volunteers to maintain strong connections with your guests remotely.
The final, crucial, step of the Airport CX Assessment, is to check if your airport is inclusive. Put yourself in the position of an individual in need of a wheelchair, or a parent with a young child. Are there support services that are still not available because of COVID? Lastly, if you are an international airport, are there any communication materials for passengers explaining local COVID protocols and other important information?
Programming and Funding
Once you have completed the CX Assessment, identify and categorize gaps and opportunities in your guest’s journey. Formalize those aggregate findings into a program that includes projects that close customer experience gaps in the next 6-12 months. Now, you are ready to secure CX funding.
Getting funded can be an even greater challenge than designing transformative customer experiences. To streamline the process and start delivering better travel experiences fast, remember to align your thinking and communication with your brand strategy. Leverage the data you gathered in the CX Assessment, share your programming ideas, and connect your CX program outcomes with your airport’s bottom line.
Do not be afraid to create a sense of urgency. This is a classic case of “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” We have one chance to meet our returning travelers where they are. And to pave the way for a return to travel that sustains and uplifts our industry.
For help executing your Customer Experience Action Plan in time to welcome your new travelers, contact The Petrova Experience.