Returning to the Skies and the Role of CX

Author Bio

Author Bio

The role of customer experience in some organizations has been placed in limbo, feedback is not a top priority.

There’s no sugar-coating it. Things in the global aviation industry are tough going at the moment. Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in Europe saw a 97% drop in passengers in April. What was looking like it could be a 4-6-week struggle is now clearly a global game-changer. Airbus has warned that the industry could take up to five years to recover to levels seen before the Coronavirus pandemic. Governments' flight restrictions change by country but the repercussions of Covid-19 are felt globally, Cathay Pacific, for example, cut 96% of their flights and Easyjet cancelled all flights amid a severe drop in demand and the increasing travel restrictions.

The role of customer experience in some organizations has been placed in limbo, and I’ve heard from some CX teams that as there are no longer customers traveling, feedback is not a top priority. As airlines struggle with the reality of furloughing staff, redundancies, and further cuts to weather this storm, it’s completely understandable focus and priorities have changed. However, thinking longer-term, if airlines are to get customers to return to the skies as passengers, then asking, listening and understanding is perhaps more critical than ever. How else are airlines to know that their proposed changes will work?

Research and feedback from six months ago may be completely irrelevant in the face of our new reality. At Confirmit, we’ve seen a switch in focus from CX to Market Research as airlines and related businesses start to look at passengers’ perceptions, concerns, and what needs to be done to eventually get people comfortable and excited about traveling again. This is where the CX team needs to come forward and use their research skills and customer contacts to give the business the direction, based on the evidence of their research, to make the changes that will encourage passengers onto their planes.

Hygiene is now obviously more important than ever before and PPE remains a hot topic of conversation across the globe. American Airlines, Delta and Ryanair recently all announced passengers will be required to wear facemasks onboard and other airlines are looking into the practicality of social distancing in the air. As these measures are investigated its crucial airlines do their research to ensure customers will feel safe enough to travel. 

We’ve seen an increase in the number of surveys completed on desktop and some of our clients have reported response rates going up rather than down as customers are still keen to engage. Survey length is increasing, customer research has taken on new meaning and it’s up to us all to write the rule book on what comes next.

We’ve been working closely with our clients to ensure our technology is supporting them through this period, from digital feedback through to text analytics. You can access our hub here, for support and advice on how to best support your teams and employees. It’s time for CX leaders to use their expertise and contact database to engage with passengers and move towards working out what the future for aviation will look like. By listening and having an open dialog now airlines will move forward.

This feels like a watershed moment for CX. We have seen the rise of the companies that lead through CX, now it feels we will see the survival of the firms that really embrace CX and understand its true worth.