Improving the Airport Customer Experience

This report number acrp_rpt_157 replaces the draft that was published earlier

Improving the Airport Customer Experience

Part of the Airport Cooperate Research Program Report nr. 157

One of the sections addresses cleanliness:

8.1 Cleanliness and Janitorial/Maintenance

A statistical study of the drivers of airport satisfaction and dissatisfaction based on a content analysis of 1,095 traveler comments on an airport review website concluded that key drivers of customer satisfaction included terminal cleanliness and a pleasant environment (Bogicevic et al. 2013). Key drivers of dissatisfaction included security inspection, confusing signage and way finding, and poor dining choices. Other surveys, including those conducted by ASQ and Skytrax, indicate that terminal cleanliness, especially of restrooms, is a core indicator of customer satisfaction. According to ACI, cleanliness remains one of the most important items for passengers and is a basic requirement for satisfaction (personal communication).

The appearance of cleanliness is harder to maintain in an older facility. Worn surfaces, poor lighting, older xtures and furnishings, darker color schemes, and unchecked growth in permanent and temporary signage make it harder to maintain an image of cleanliness and order in older terminals and can give the appearance of a lack of cleanliness in spite of the best efforts of janitorial staff and increased maintenance spending.

Customer feedback mechanisms (discussed in Chapter 3) can be applied to determine how customers perceive the cleanliness of the terminal (and restrooms). Feedback cards, touch-screen and kiosk-based surveys taken in the restroom and terminals, text messages, Twitter, ASQ, and other ongoing user feedback mechanisms, as well as focus groups and web surveys, are proven techniques that can be applied to assessing customer perceptions of cleanliness. Tools such as these may be helpful in prioritizing the use of limited funds for terminal renewals and replacements.

Where the problem may indeed be janitorial maintenance, airports can benchmark their cost per square foot of janitorial expense against peer airports and determine if they are getting a good return on their expense. It may be necessary to adjust schedules, increase staf ng during peak

periods, or perform deferred maintenance in order to improve cleanliness scores (as determined by benchmarking) to acceptable levels. Restrooms are particularly important as drivers of customer satisfaction.

8.15 Restrooms

Survey research on customer satisfaction has established a direct link between the quality and cleanliness of restrooms and the overall customer experience. Recent common practices in restroom design include:

  • Removing doors at entrances to restrooms. Most airports have created doorless entries to restrooms. Doors are an impediment to travelers burdened with carry-on baggage or children.
  • Brightening up entrances. Restroom entryways do not have to look institutional and serious. Entrances, like restroom interiors, are being upgraded to include art, graphics, and use of color and lighting.
  • Hotel-style restrooms. When San Francisco International Airport was designing its com- pletely redeveloped Terminal 2, it conducted considerable research into what makes a good restroom and developed what it calls hotel-style restrooms. SFO’s restrooms are bright and have lots of indirect lighting, which appears less harsh than direct lighting. Lighting is placed around mirrors to improve visibility, and women’s restrooms include seating so women can apply makeup and take advantage of the mirrored lighting. High-speed air dryers are mounted between sinks to reduce water dripping on the oor. Light materials are used, but dark materials are used on countertops to downplay the look of water on counters around sinks. Toilet partitions are larger to accommodate carry-on bags. The reactions were so positive that SFO now includes its upgraded restroom program in all future terminal projects. Other airports with hotel-quality restrooms are perennial leaders Singapore Changi, Seoul Incheon, and Hong Kong.
  • Using quality materials. As restrooms age, materials tend to crack and discolor. These materials look dirty, and no amount of cleaning can brighten them. Use of long-lasting materials will keep the restrooms looking good for longer. Cheap xtures, particularly those with sensors, are more likely to leak or fail.

Some airports have adopted standards designed to ensure that restrooms remain open to meet demand. Portland International Airport designs its new restrooms with two entrances so that one part can be blocked for cleaning without closing the entire restroom. This is particularly important where larger restrooms are used and the next nearest restroom is far away.

Adequate storage closets and sinks for janitorial staff are a necessity. If the cleaning staff cannot readily access the buckets, mops, and cleaning materials they need, there will be less time to clean the restrooms.

Customer feedback on how well restrooms are meeting their needs can be obtained through a variety of means, including:

    • Comment cards and drop boxes.
    • Touch-screen ratings. Singapore Changi has installed touch screens where passengers can rate the restroom using a ve-point scale. Geneva Airport has a mechanized feedback counter where passengers push a red, yellow, or green button to indicate their satisfaction with the visit to the restroom.
    • Customer surveys, including ASQ and local periodic customer surveys, can solicit overall ratings of restrooms.
    • Twitter or text. A number of airports post a Twitter address or a number where customers can text their reactions to restroom conditions. This can also allow for quick reaction to pressing cleaning needs.

According to ACI, one in three airports in the world has instant feedback tools in washrooms to measure satisfaction with cleanliness. In North America, this statistic is one in ve. Seven of 10 airports worldwide collect real-time feedback on specific items such as availability of soap and toilet paper. Three out of four airports with real-time feedback tools dispatch cleaning staff once they receive alerts of a bad customer experience with restrooms. According to ACI, cleanliness of washrooms/toilets is very important across all passenger pro les (personal communication with ACI).

8.15.1 Restroom Attendants

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT) initiated a program in 2006 to improve customer service by adding restroom attendants. The airport hires employees using a local company that specializes in job placement for workers with disabilities. The attendants are responsible for keeping the restrooms clean and provide optional amenities such as tissues, mouthwash and paper cups, and mints. A tip tray is visible, but tipping is optional. The airport tried the restroom attendant program on a trial basis and continued the program after receiving many positive comments about the cleanliness of the restrooms.

The restrooms at CLT are clean and stocked, especially during busy periods. Some passengers, however, are put off by the presence of the attendant and by the tip tray since it is unusual to find attendants in restrooms in all but the most exclusive restaurants and private clubs. Nevertheless, the complaints about restroom conditions dropped, and the program is considered successful by the airport. As a connecting hub with heavy traffic during peaks, keeping the restrooms tidy and in order is no longer a major issue.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Cooperative Research Programs (CRP)

Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein.

Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FRA, FTA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, PHMSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP.




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