Due to globalization and competition in any service industry, customer satisfaction becomes highly important as it is the key to success which in further is directly influenced by the crucial factor of customer service. Customer satisfaction holds very important role in any organization as it is used as an indicator to assess customer loyalty and helps to identify the unhappy customers. It also helps to reduce the churn rate and revenue generation. Because of this customer satisfaction, any business organization stands out in a competition by differentiating it from the other organizations in terms of its quality and service which helps to attract new customers.
It is vital to have customer satisfaction as it is directly linked with good reputation. With good reputation, the airline creates good will and good word of mouth and will have customer retention than the airlines with less or no customer satisfaction. With more satisfied customers, the airline will generate more revenue and will be able to operate profitably. The aim of this essay is to study the importance of customer satisfaction in the airline industry and how quality customer service and the products offered to the customers keeping in mind the passengers’ requirements affect customer satisfaction, ultimately the deciding factor for any airline to be a winner.In this highly competitive environment, there is a necessity of high quality customer service in the service based industry to gain a competitive edge. The profitability of any service organization depends positively on customer service and customer satisfaction; however it is not that easy as it is decided by the customers’ perception and experience (Hersh, 2010).
The foundation of any service organization is based on satisfied customers, as it leads to repeat purchases, brand loyalty, and positive word of mouth. Hill, N. Brierley, J. and MacDougall, R. (1999), explicates the reasons why and how to measure customer satisfaction. A customer satisfaction measurement (CSM) program should be developed to help us to understand how customers discern the particular organization and whether its services and products meet their expectations. Once the airline understands the expectations of the passengers, they develop the strategies and methods to achieve their needs. As soon as the airline company handle the CSM well, the service improvement goals are set and progress is monitored against the passenger satisfaction index.
Ultimately, the airline increases its profits through improvement in customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.Elements of service required for satisfaction: According to Services marketing: Integrating customer focus across the firm, the judgement of the customer towards the product’s quality which is defined as service quality acts as one of the important determinants of brand loyalty (Zeithaml et al, 2009). For any business organization to survive and flourish, the crucial strategy is service quality. The purchase behavior of the customer and the performance of the organization depend on the service quality (Zeithaml et al., 1996). The popular model widely used to study the service quality developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1988) is based on five elements. a.
Reliability: The performance of the airline should be consistent and accurate. The employees should be trained to deliver the correct and effective services to the passengers. b. Responsiveness: The airline and its employees should be willing to help and ready to serve the passengers and should provide prompt and timely services on-board ad at the airport rather than ignoring the passengers and leaving them waiting.
c. Assurance: The staff has to assure that they possess the desired skills, knowledge, and are courteous towards their duties. d. Empathy: The airline staff should know to show the concern, empathize with the passengers individually, and caring as well.
e. Tangibles: This includes the physical evidence of service such as appearance of personnel and the equipments used. Apart from this model, the service which can make overall experience convenient for the customer is introduction of smart self-service.
In today’s era of technology, customers prefer to use existing text or chat apps, using which they can search and book flights, get notifications and avail customer service, this all helps in revenue and customer satisfaction. Elements of product require for satisfaction: The customer satisfaction equally depends on providing the products to the customers depending on their requirements, which helps the airline organization to achieve the higher level of customer satisfaction and also to improve the service quality efficiently. Identifying the passenger’s needs is not the only criteria to achieve customer satisfaction by the airlines, but they need to learn to prioritize them (Shaw. S, 2004). The elements which can help in achieving customer satisfaction are: a.
Quality of services: It includes check-in service, in-flight services, food and beverage on board and ground handling service which impacts directly to the passenger’s decision making. Some passengers prefer to pay higher for the good services of the airline over any other airline. Location: The passengers look for easy access and convenience to reach the airline offices and the agencies. c.
Airfare’s price: For a particular airline to stay in competition with the other competitors, the reasonable priced airfare is the important factor to attract larger number of passengers. d. Layout, decoration and entertainment service: It includes the competitive elements such as interior design of the aircraft, the uniform of airhostess, the seating comfort on board, a separate cabin to allow for sleep and work, meal quality and in-flight entertainment (videos, music and games) e.
Loyalty program: This includes VIP cards or other methods to retain passengers through coupons, vouchers, discounts, higher priority pass, free gifts, frequent flyer program through which passengers are benefitted. f. Frequency and Timings: In today’s busy schedule and uncertainty of the travelers, the “frequency and timings” plays a major role in achieving customer satisfaction. The airlines with high frequency will have pivotal advantages. Moreover, the flight’s timings play is an important consideration for the travelers to travel on short notice and who wants to make day return trips. Punctuality: No airline can retain or gain the passengers with the poor punctuality reputation.
The flight delays cause inconvenience, missed appointments, result in the loss of customers. Punctuality plays a significant role for the connecting passengers as they have to connect with the next flight. Direct flights for long-haul routes: Apart from the frequency, a significant consideration required to achieve customer satisfaction is that the availability of direct and non-stop flights for the long-haul routes. Airline Alliance: To improve the customer satisfaction and to develop the airline business, airlines alliance plays an important role. Airline alliance is said to be formed when two different airlines merge and they agree to work jointly towards the same end with each other. The customers are benefited as they get more options for destinations with more suitable connections whereas the airline is benefited by providing the passengers to each other rather than to other competitors. To conclude, the airlines with better service quality and the products offered to the customers succeed in achieving customer satisfaction.
The higher satisfied customers means more business and revenue to the company as they get more passengers through a good word of mouth by the existing frequent passengers. Fare is not the sole deciding factor, but to stay in competition the other elements of service and products have to be considered to satisfy the customers by the airline which need to do something which others are not doing. Customer satisfaction is directly related to the services and products offered to the passengers depending on the passengers needs which includes airfare, attitude of employees, connectivity, frequency, check-in and in-flight services, loyalty programs, to name a few. The airlines should pay more attention on these elements to build customer satisfaction to get more passengers, ultimately profitable business and reputation of an organization. The only way for an airline to make profit is to keep the customers happy.