There are various aspects that account for a holiday experience, starting from the process of booking until the arrival back in one’s home country. Especially airline companies plays an important role, as people want to arrive at their destination smoothly in order to start their holiday with pleasure. Therefore, it is important that the expectations of travelers are met, as “it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative one” (J. Dent, 2013). Sometimes however, there is a gap between the reality of the point of view of the customer and the perspective of the company. In order to minimize this gap, the approach of Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is used to review the own actions from the perspective of the customer (S. Zeidler, 2010). To be more specific, this approach is relevant to track and describe the experiences customers make when purchasing or encountering a service, but taking their responses and actions into account (J. Dent, 2013).
The experiences of customers are most valuable to companies, as happy customers form a basis for a relationship with the company. However, people have distinctive values, needs and wants and thereby varying expectations, which result in different experiences. Companies need to define different personas in order to satisfy every individual and to reach customer loyalty. In this context, Customer Journey Mapping plays a central role as it serves as an identifier of the desires and expectations of each traveler individually.
In the airline industry different personas are identified, namely families, leisure or business travelers as well as people with special needs (J. Dent, 2013). For example, when serving families, it is important to set a focus on the entertainment of the children on board, as the happiness of children contributes to the satisfaction of parents. People with special needs on the other hand require more attention from their arrival at the airport until their departure.
Moreover, it is important to deliver a satisfying customer experience throughout all touchpoints, meaning that airlines have to commit a valuable experience from the first process of booking, for example via their website, until the customers arrive at their destination. Adding value to an individual traveler’s experience from the beginning is important, as “the experience matters to airline customers as just as much as the destination” (J. Dent, 2013).
Of great significance is also the fact that customers want to receive the feeling of understanding and security. It is important that the airline crew can identify themselves with the different personas, via personal communication and assistance, for instance. A real life example shows, that customers can experience a better journey when positive awareness of employees meet insecurities of passengers. A pilot of Germanwings, for example, talked personally to his passengers a few days after the dramatic fatality of another Germanwings machine. In this context, identification and understanding of values are examples of how to create a positive customer experience.
All in all, Customer Journey Mapping and the defining of different personas are essential tools to establish a relationship with the customer by retracing the own actions from the perspective of the customer and by identifying their desires.
Zeidler (2010), Mit Customer-Journey-Mapping die Kundenzufriedenheit steigern, Retrieved 20/09/2015 from http://www.gruenderszene.de/allgemein/mit-customer-journey-mapping-die-kundenzufriedenheit-steigern
J. Dent (2013), Customer Journey Mapping: A walk in customers’ shoes, Ascend.