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Listen, understand, and build a relationship with your passengers to improve their customer experience

Dominic Corrigan
Jan 4, 2024

In the lead-up to our February ‘Smoothing the way to frictionless travel’ event, we’re unpacking the hot topics, challenges, and opportunities in the travel and transport industry today. Here, Dominic Corrigan a Director in our CX practice explores the pain points of fragmented passenger experiences and makes his suggestions for how to start listening to and better serving your customers.

Fragmentation, frustration, and failing your customers

Consider the touchpoints of the average holidaymaker’s journey. Before they even step out of their house, they can experience the travel aggregator, the hotel booking service, the public transport ticket hub, the taxi booking service, the airport parking service, booking an airport lounge, and much more. Once the day arrives and they’re on their way, their overall customer experience is made up of the individual physical experiences with each of those touchpoints.

Owning that whole experience is hard for any one organisation and it’s frustratingly fragmented, because not all parties in the customer’s journey are cooperating. Typically, there is no flow of data between different partners – for example passengers’ flight details shared with the train company, or their train times shared with the taxi rank – and so each one competes for the same piece of information in an attempt to own the customer.

Not only does this increase fragmentation, but it also contributes to the rollercoaster of emotions that come with travelling. Many travellers find taking a trip quite stressful, at different points in the process, and when things go wrong with one service, the customer’s plan tends to completely fall apart and it’s down to them alone to get it back on track. It’s nerve-wracking, confusing, and depletes the entire experience, regardless of how well the journey was going beforehand or does afterwards.

And what doesn’t help this is that many businesses in the sector aren’t listening well enough to those customers.

With old challenges come new opportunities…

Better communication

In the age of communication, new ways to reach out and contact your customers appear every day. New technologies like generative AI can be used to make it easier to communicate with customer services by enabling the agents to become more efficient or even answer the question in real time. Combatting the fact that not all passengers will speak the same language as the operator providing their travel, it can also help with translation; providing ways for passengers to communicate in their own language with various providers.

Financial opportunities

By not being passenger-centric, many businesses are missing out on lucrative opportunities to sell the right products to their customers at a time when their moods and wallets are open.

Capgemini recently signed a new four-year deal with Heathrow airport to provide DevOps support for its extensive technology estate. Working with the UK’s largest and busiest airport, we will assist to deliver a bespoke and streamlined airport experience for passengers, by offering up a supplier marketplace that has been curated to display the most appropriate products and services.

We’ll continue to provide development and support of existing products and services such as Reserve & Collect shopping, Parking & Services, Customer Service and 24/7 Level 2 support – which is a continuation of the work started by Capgemini and Salesforce in 2018 to deliver Heathrow’s commercial digital vision. But we’ll also be working with Salesforce to introduce a greater level of personalisation to the passenger experience using Salesforce Data Cloud and Marketing Cloud to better utilise customer data and analytics.

And we’ll be assisting Heathrow in re-launching its VIP service which offers bespoke solutions to high profile travellers.

Collaboration and cooperation for customer experience

Instead of competing for information in a fragmented data landscape, why not acknowledge that the passenger is both party’s customer? If, as an industry, we get our heads together to ask how we can make the synergy between us better, it will improve passenger experience across the board – removing friction and opening the door for the two opportunities above.

How can businesses grasp these opportunities?

First, it’s crucial to understand the customer and what role your business plays in their journey. When working with Heathrow, we know the customer’s journey starts when they begin thinking about the trip – weeks, months, maybe even years before they take an action. Circling back to the journey we discussed at the top of this article, what happens before they turn up at the airport? What happens when they come back from the trip? Start thinking about the interim journey and how that passenger may be thinking and feeling in each of those moments. Then ask yourself: how can I fit into that experience in a seamless and friendly way? How can I actively remove the points of friction?

How do you do it? By listening to your customers. We recommend turning to user research to find out why and how your users want to interact with you. If they don’t want to pick up the phone, would they talk to a bot? Experiment, try something out, listen to your customers using sentiment analysis or social media analysis, then assess it.

With all of this comes data and it’s vital. If you aren’t already, start building a relationship with your customer and explore new ways to do so. The more data you have, the better experience you can provide. The better experience you provide, the more willing the customer will be to share their data with you because they can see the advantage. It’s a win/win.

Be clear on the value of digital and data. If you structure the business case and narrative well, we can help you measure the success of your investment. Instead of seeing the benefits of digital as “this shiny new app looks nice”, we can drill down into the value digital is giving you back. How is it moving the needle on customer satisfaction and revenue? By how many minutes have you slashed passenger delays? And what did those things cost you operationally before the investment in digital? Yes, you may need to raise the cost of capital to invest in building capabilities that help you sort your data into information, but what you get is higher operational resilience capacities, increased customer satisfaction, and the ability to keep driving results from your investments.

Key to meeting any challenge head-on, however, is to unite as an industry and start sharing. We believe there is a great opportunity for the industry to collaborate, think and reflect with like-minded peers focusing on some key opportunities facing the industry including: sustainability, customer experience, multi-modal transport, intelligent industry, and 5G.

You have the opportunity to explore these industry themes at our exclusive breakfast workshop on Thursday 1st February 8am – 12pm.

Click here to register now as spaces are limited!

Dominic Corrigan

Engagement Director
Dominic is a widely-experienced digital leader who works to deeply understand his client’s business, challenges and opportunities. Results-orientated with a passion for building better user experiences and a proven track record of success within a wide range of sectors. Heading up the Immersive Experiences offer in the UK. Building new capabilities and delivering transformative user experiences. Dominic has delivered a number of transformational, strategic programmes for a varied range of clients and is experienced in environments with challenging technology, time-scale and stakeholder issues. Dominic has held a number of senior delivery and account ownership roles focused on building digital experiences to transform clients’ businesses.