Emirates and Etihad Airlines have outperformed their rivals British Airways, Air France and Qatar Airways in a service quality benchmarking report. Customer service consultancy firm, Ethos Consultancy has conducted an independent study covering a comprehensive list of service quality criteria which captures customer satisfaction at all key customer touch points throughout a typical flight experience. This study analyses the customer experience from flight booking all the way through to check-in, baggage drop, boarding, plane conditions, in flight services such as food and beverage, entertainment and shopping, right through to disembarkation and final baggage claim. With only 0.8% difference between the two UAE national airlines, Emirates Airlines placed first overall scoring 92.3%, followed very marginally by Abu Dhabi based airline, Etihad Airways who scored 91.5%.
Swiss Air came in third with 86.6%, British Airways placed fourth with 84.3%, Virgin Atlantic placed fifth with 79.8%, followed by Air France at 72.3% and finally Qatar Airways placed last with 71.5%.
Barry Judge, Director of Marketing at Ethos Consultancy comments, “The aviation industry has never been tougher or more unforgiving, margins are paper-thin and airlines need to strive for continuous improvement by focusing on delivering consistently high levels of customer service that extend beyond in-flight service. We conducted this study to provide a window into the service quality levels of airlines during one of their busiest and most competitive periods – December and January”.
Judge continues; “Both Emirates and Etihad have performed very well and should be content with their service quality performance during a very busy period, however their reports were far from perfect. There is certainly room for improvement and consistency moving forward.”
A total of seven international airlines were included in this study. Criteria for inclusion included departure and return from either Dubai or Abu Dhabi in economy class with the flight being no shorter than six hours. A total of 14 flight experiences were measured with all flights taking place during the 2009/2010 Christmas and New Year period.
A pleasing 100% of travelers were greeted by a flight attendant with a warm and genuine nature upon boarding their aircraft, however only 36% of travelers were greeted using their name when handing over their ticket to board. A total of 21% of travelers involved in this study experienced departure delays, whilst 100% felt completely safe and in good hands. 79% indicated they were either very satisfied or satisfied with the amount of personal space provided on the aircraft and 71% would fly with their airline again based on the experience they received throughout this particular journey. 86% of travelers advised they would happily recommend the airline they flew with to family and friends.
Judge stated; “customer service benchmarking reports are crucial to sustainable excellence in service quality. In a time of economic uncertainty, with customer trust eroding and purchase behaviors growing harder to predict, mastering service quality has become even more critical to staying relevant, competitive and improving customer retention and customer loyalty”.