As an added feature to their customer loyalty programs, more and more carriers are improving their passengers' customer experience (CX) by upgrading existing airport lounges, which they have increasingly come to regard as a key part of their CX ecosystem.
At Singapore's Changi airport, recently voted the best in the world, British Airways improved its first-class passenger lounge to include a private bar. Cathay Pacific is quietly renovating its Business Class lounge at Hong Kong, and Singapore Airlines is in the midst of a $100 million customer experience improvement programme it embarked on in 2013. Unlike others, Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong doesn't believe that glitz is what passengers need.
Singapore Airlines' new, redesigned lounges are themed on the 'home away from home' concept, and feature a living room, quiet corners where you can work or relax, and a dining room replete with local favourites. The home-away-from-home concept is already present on board SIA aircraft, and the airline wants to extend this to offerings on the ground. Called Silver Kris, these lounges are already available for travelers in Hong Kong, Sydney and Manila. Bangkok and Brisbane are next on the list, and SIA’s home city of Singapore will eventually have one as well, after Singapore Airlines learns from the customer experience in other cities.
Adding value at every step - Customer Experience
Managing Director of American Express (Business Travel - Asia-Pacific) David Reimer is all for the end-to-end proposition. It is they who are going to emerge winners in a cut-throat market where the profitability per seat has plunged to less than $5 with the arrival of budget airlines. Song Hoi-see of the airport lounge operator Plaza Premium Group, which has lounges/hotels at 130 airports in the region, is of the opinion that people are always willing to pay for services that are value for money. Their hotel at Changi has a jacuzzi, and Reimer feels that being able to work uninterrupted or have a meal in peace and or even take a shower are definitely value additions at a time when corporates are tightening their travel budgets.
According to a study by Fifth Quadrant, improving the consumers' experience has an overall positive effect on customer experience, improving loyalty and encouraging positive customer advocacy. The reverse is also true – according to research conducted by Fifth Quadrant, seven out of every ten customers leave after just one bad experience. They expect a personalised experience, and delivering a low effort, high-quality service is what works best and it’s exactly what airlines are counting on as they push CX to the next level.
Photo credit: byeangel
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