ASQ: Benchmarking passenger satisfaction
Stronger competition between airports has placed increasing importance on customer service levels, while the changes to the ownership structure of airports has created the need for authorities/stakeholders to use recognised Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in their concession agreements. The ASQ Survey provides the industry standard in terms of passenger satisfaction benchmark data, with more than 180 airports from over 50 countries participating worldwide. Each year, over 280,000 passengers are interviewed while waiting at the gate and asked to rate their ‘on-the-day’ experience of that particular airport. The Survey measures 34 elements, ranging from ‘friendliness of check-in staff’ to ‘waiting time at security control’.
While there is one overall survey programme, airports handling fewer than two million passengers per year have the option to join either the ASQ Survey Main Programme or the ASQ Survey Regional Programme. The Main Programme, for airports of all traffic sizes, had 151 participants in Q4 2010, including 53 in Europe, with results available every quarter. The Regional Programme had 39 participants in Q4 2010, including 21 in Europe.
The Survey is undertaken on a quarterly cycle, beginning with participants being sent blank questionnaires and airports receiving a specific sample plan. Fieldwork is then undertaken, which is the responsibility of participating airports, with the selection of flights surveyed based on the ASQ sample plan. Completed questionnaires are subsequently returned for data processing and analysis of results.
There are four key components to the ASQ Survey, which are designed to guarantee reliable and comparable results between participating airports. Firstly, the 34 KPI selected by the ASQ Survey participants – there is the possibility to review these during the annual ASQ Airport Forums. Secondly, Methodology – the Survey is performed based on a provided sample plan with thorough quality and sample control. Thirdly, the Survey is completed on a Paper Questionnaire with the KPI rated on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent); the questionnaire is available in 30 different languages. Fourthly, Surveying Departing Passengers – the questionnaire is completed by departing passengers while waiting at the gate area.
Additional elements of the ASQ Programme include ASQ Performance, which benchmarks passenger waiting times. 16 KPI are used, including ‘waiting time at check-in’ and ‘delivery of first bag/last bag’. A consistent methodology is used at all airports, with measurements taken during peak hours.
Meanwhile, ASQ Assured provides quality management certification. It is a framework designed to help airports drive continual improvement. Certified airports benefit from industry recognition and also an independent audit and report on their processes.
The ASQ Programme provides clear benefits for participating airports, enabling them to identify possible service gaps and share best practice with other participating airports. Airports also gain a better understanding of where to focus their efforts and investments by identifying those areas in which improvements have the most impact on customer satisfaction. ASQ also provides an opportunity for airports to raise awareness of their achievements in customer service. A yearly rating of top performing airports is published and the work of these airports recognised with awards.