Brand, service, experience & expectations – an airport car parking illustration

In delivering any service all the elements have to line up and work together in a consistent and coherent way.  This is even more important when delivering a value-add service that the customer is paying extra for – paying more will generate different expectations and if any of the parts fail to live up to that expectation then the dent on the experience is likely to be proportionally larger.

I was reminded of this recently when a colleague paid extra for a reserved space in the short stay car park at a UK airport.  The extra convenience and reassurance of booking the space led to expectations of service quality.  But if failed at almost every touchpoint.  First ANPR system at the barriers failed to recognise his car (apparently they are susceptible to water getting in despite being outdoors!); the call to the service centre was answered slowly with poor audio quality.  Having been told to take a ticket and go in anyway and the system would let him out, on returning to his car the barriers failed to let him out.  Calls to the service centre now went unanswered and it took over 45 minutes of staff on the ground saying they couldn’t help to get it sorted and to be let out.

airport car park stock image

Getting a guaranteed parking space close to the terminal was the value being paid for.  But the airport seemingly failed to recognise that in the minds of the customer they are also paying for a service.  And they expect that service to be delivered end-to-end without problems.  This means not providing unreliable or un-usable technology. If there are problems they expect simple and quick resolution – not unanswered calls to an off-site office who can’t actually resolve the problem easily.

Mapping the journey that the customer takes through a service and the different paths the interaction can take helps to understand how all of the elements have to work together (especially when things do go wrong).  It helps to examine the varying perceptions and expectations that customers will bring.  And critically it helps to define the back-of-house capabilities and processes required to make it work.

David is Managing Director at CCD

David is our Managing Director with over 19 years practice as a Human Factors specialist in design projects. He has delivered projects across sectors including rail, oil & gas, airports, utilities and the emergency services. He has worked with clients such as Network Rail, Siemens, easyJet, WSP, Metropolitan Police, National Express, TfL and HS2.


David Watts

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