Airline Performance Depends on Flyer-Focused Retail Customer Service, According to PwC

The report highlights key enhancers derived from various consumer behaviors such as balancing technology, listening to feedback, improving comfort, elevating connectivity and bundling fees, based on input from more than 2,000 business and leisure flyers...


NEW YORK, October 24, 2013 ? In today’s competitive travel market, flyers are expecting airlines to behave more like retailers and less like a mode of transportation.  Airlines can successfully create more value by adopting retail customer service approaches that address five key behaviors exhibited by flyers, according to PwC USExperience Radar 2013: Lessons Learned from the Airline Industry. The report highlights key enhancers derived from various consumer behaviors such as balancing technology, listening to feedback, improving comfort, elevating connectivity and bundling fees, based on input from more than 2,000 business and leisure flyers globally.

According to PwC, flyers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on a wide range of features and value enhancers, from extended seat space options and priority security line access to mobile ticketing and inflight Wi-Fi availability.  Nine segments across business and leisure flyers, ranging from the elite focused, to the middle-of-the-road business traveler to a deal-seeking, leisure segment, all have distinct travel preferences and are willing to pay for different amenities. According to the report, studying the individual needs of these nine flyer segments can help airlines better rank their product and service features to identify additional opportunities and bolster top-line growth and bottom-line results.

“In an increasingly competitive environment, airlines are evaluating a wide range of options for improving the experience and value they deliver to passengers,” said Jonathan Kletzel, U.S. transportation and logistics leader, PwC.  “One approach does not fit all.  Various consumer segments, ranging from senior executives to budget-minded leisure travelers have different preferences and opinions on what constitutes great traveling experiences.  Those airlines that understand the true value drivers among each flyer segment will be best-positioned to compete and drive returns on their investments through enhanced products and services.”

PwC’s Experience Radar identifies five key behavioral categories among travelers and matches their preferences with leading practices to better enhance the passenger experience:

Balance tech with touch

Technology and automation are changing the ways customers interact with airlines.  From check-in to boarding, flyers across the globe are seeking do-it-yourself (DIY) options.  Time constrained business travelers are particularly active on the DIY front and are 1.8 times more likely than leisure travelers to use mobile for routine booking tasks.  However, direct access to airline staff is just as important, especially at times where issue resolution is needed.  In fact, two out of three flyers prefer an agent to help resolve issues such as cancelled or missed flights.  How agents handle these issues is critical to travelers’ experiences and views of an airline, as 49 percent of airline complaints and issues are said to go unaddressed, according to the report.  Empowering agents with the right tools to address issues is paramount, as is the need for airlines to invest in training personnel even as they continue to automate many customer service functions.

Listen to the vocal voyager

This content continues onto the next page...

We Recommend