Director General Angela Gittens says, “I extend my congratulations to Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, which for the sixth straight year has taken the top customer service award honour, Best Airport Worldwide. Asia Pacific airports made a clean sweep of this worldwide category, as they did last year, with Singapore Changi Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, and Shanghai Pudong International Airport garnering respectively the second, third, fourth and fifth places for 2010. We applaud the consistent success story of the Asia Pacific airports, which set the bar in service excellence.”
ACI also applauds the many winners garnering the top five awards in other categories. In 2010, over 300,000 passenger surveys were completed at participating ASQ airports and served as the basis for determining the top 5 performers in each of the categories – worldwide, by size (e.g., the number of passengers handled, in 6 size categories) and by region (6 regions) and a best improvement award (also by region).
In the airport size categories, top honours went to Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Ottawa, Seoul Gimpo, and Seoul Incheon. In the regional best airport awards, passengers scored Cancun, Cape Town, Dubai, Indianapolis, Malta and Seoul Incheon, the highest. This year ASQ also recognizes four regional airports with fewer than 2 million passengers per year for their excellent results: George, South Africa; Humberside, UK; Bridgetown, Barbados; and Quebec City, Canada. Best improvement awards went to Bournemouth, Cape Town, Dubai, San José, Shanghai Hongqiao and Vancouver.
Gittens says, “Airports vie for passenger loyalty as they seek to attract new routes and air service. For them, ASQ is not just a popularity contest; it is a tool to help improve performance in a measurable manner, to understand the factors that are successful, and to identify problem areas that they can then address. Worldwide competition has heightened the importance of service quality at airports today.”
The ASQ passenger survey measures customer feedback on a range of service delivery parameters that track the customer experience at an airport from the moment of arrival to the departure gate. Analysis of this “real-time” data, recorded on the day of travel, serves as a guide for aligning service provision with customer expectations. By benchmarking the airport with other similar airports, ASQ enables airports to see where they stand relative to their peers and competitors. This helps airports prioritize improvement projects and validate their investments in new facilities and services.
Programme Director Craig Bradbrook comments, “We are also pleased to recognise those airports, which in the opinion of the passengers, have made the most improvement in the past year. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, three of the six ‘Best Improvement Award’ winners were airports which hosted major events during the year: Vancouver for the Winter Olympic Games, Cape Town for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Shanghai for the World EXPO 2010. Each of these airports and their staff were very proud to be a host airport and that pride was evident in the experience they provided the passenger. It just goes to show what is possible when all companies and staff at an airport work together with a shared vision and commitment to provide an excellent customer experience.”
Looking at several years of data from the ASQ Survey, the results show positive trends in the participants’ understanding and application of best practices – a key goal of the benchmarking programme. In addition to quarterly analytical reports provided to each participant, they attend regional discussion forums where airports share information on customer service initiatives and the results achieved.
Bradbrook adds, “By emphasizing best practice, airports enrolled in ASQ have seen overall customer service rating rise steadily by 7.5 percent over the five-year period. Another key observation has been that the top performing airports are those that deliver on the basics first – general ambience, cleanliness, check in efficiency, courtesy of staff, clear signage, availability of facilities, comfortable waiting areas – and then turn their attention to provision of other services. We know from the retail revenue experience that the traveller who is satisfied with the essential services and waiting times then has a greater propensity to take advantage of the additional quality services that enhance the airport experience, be that lounges, wi-fi connections, spas, food and beverage or duty free sales.”
The ASQ programme continues to expand worldwide and as of February counts 209 participants. To be eligible for the annual ASQ awards, an airport must participate in the ASQ Survey during all four quarters of the year. In 2010 the survey was conducted at 153 airports and 140 qualified (full year participation). The survey is carried out in strict accordance with a fieldwork survey plan, developed by ACI, which guarantees a representative sample of the flights, destinations and passenger groups served by the airport. ACI audits the process to ensure compliance and to validate the results.
Gittens says, “I emphasize that all ASQ participants have voluntarily and independently decided to join the benchmarking programme. All seek to be leaders in the field of quality service delivery. I therefore extend my congratulations to all of them for their commitment to the customer.”