Customer Expectation


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Afsheen Chitnis

Posted 13-Dec-2004 08:44 AM
Dear Graham

I am doing my master thesis on the impact of CRM on customer satisfaction—measuring customer expectation and perception—in the airline industry . I have met some top airline managers about my research. but what they tell me is there is no need to measure customer expectations because customer always expect the best.
So what do you think customer expectation mean and is it measurable?

Thank You

Afsheen Chitnis

Graham Hill

Posted 14-Dec-2004 01:07 AM

That sounds like the exasperated cry of executives who are failing to deliver against customer expectations to me!

Customer don’t always expect ‘the best’, otherwise the low-cost carrier model would never have got off the ground. That it has and that it has overtaken many of the majors already in terms of value creation suggests that understanding different customer segments’ expectations and then delivering against them is actually very important.

Expectations are related to customer needs and wants. If wants are the requirements customers can easily explain and needs are more fundamental requirements that often they cannot so easily explain (but that are available through appropriate market research), then expectations are how much of each of them they expect. Most expectations models range between ‘minimum acceptable’ and a ‘maximum expected’ levels. This is the so-called ‘zone of tolerance’. Delivering within it provides a satisfactory experience. Delivering below it a disatisfactory one. And delivering above it a delightful one, if it is a suprise.

Look at the zone of tolerance research and Kano model to understand how these fit together, and the servqual model to understand how to use expectations in developing a service proposition that works and that can repeatedly be delivered.

The best book on this area by far is Zeithaml & Bitners textbook on services marketing—Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus Across the Firm, McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Ignore the airline managers you talked to. Perhaps they prefer to watch while low-cost competitors fly away with their customers. Understanding customers’ needs, wants & expectations is a critical foundation stone of effective CRM. It always has been!

Graham Hill
Independent Management Consultant
(Ex Aviation CRM Consultant)

Posted 16-Dec-2004 12:29 PM
Hi there,
I fully agree with Graham. Irrespective of which industry you are in, the customers have their expectations. It’s a question of segmenting the market and understanding the expectations of each of the segments, which is crucial for the success of CRM and the industry itself. If not, as Graham mentioned, small players would out-smart the big players.
Vishnu Rayapeddi
S&OP Manager
Navman (NZ) Limited

Posted 16-Dec-2004 08:35 PM
I agree with Graham 150%. Customers have expectation on all fronts; just because one airline does a terrific job of getting the luggage onto the conveyer belt in the shortest time does not mean that customers will tolerate incompetence in other areas. What is perhaps important to measure is this—given a choice will the customer use the same airline or wills/he switch to another one? It is after all the after taste that matters—the overall experience which is much more than a summation of parts.

V Achuthan Kutty
Xerago Customer Management Pvt. Ltd.
Bangalore India

Posted 20-Dec-2004 07:32 AM
I would like to some what defend the Airline Executive by agreeing that customers do expect more. Todays customer perspective of “minimum standards” is much higher than in the past. As more and more companies (low cost and full fair) are forced to raise minimum standards the room for differentiation diminishes. However, this raises the importance of differentiation on the remaining choices. For example, low cost carriers tend to differentiate on being friendly, higher cost carriers can focus on “ontime.”


Posted 21-Dec-2004 06:46 AM

Two links I recommend to anybody doing any work in Airline industry

Let me know if helps.

Akash Mavle

Picture of gautam

Posted 22-Dec-2004 09:37 PM

low cost carriers tend to differentiate on being friendly, higher cost carriers can focus on “ontime.”

IMHO, for full-fare carriers, it’s not an option. They need to be friendly, and on time, and offer a decent in-flight experience, and decent baggage handling. Else, how can they justify full-fare?

As for customer expectations, I guess one needs to measure a customer’s LTV and the competitions offerings, before deciding on service levels. Also one needs to understand the customer . Too many airlines spend loads of money on things customers don’t care much for. (eg: Glossy in-flight magazines. IMHO, that money is better spent on a more vicarious experience, like better dessert, better music system, an in-flight masseuse, maybe a concierge service?)

So, going back to the original question , those airline execs have their heads all messed up. You need to spend a lot of time figuring out what matters most to customers, and in fact to different groups of customers. So each customer-type can be offered those experiences that matter. So airlines won’t be wasting money on frills that don’t matter.

I read an interesting article a long time ago, about an airline that has a simple in-flight feedback form.
They asked customers to compare the airline’s performance against the competition on 5-6 factors (like: On time, In-flight ent, Crew-service, Baggage handling etc.).

Then they asked customers—”Would you fly with us again?”

This simple yet brilliant approach gave them great insights. For example: They found that customers who rated them low on in-flight entertainment, but at par or higher on other factors, also said they would fly with the airline again. So now they spend their dollars less on purchasing the latest movie rights, and more on factors that really matter.

The lack of feedback-taking by airlines really surprises me. I mean, come on—You got a planeload of customers who’ve got nowhere else to go for the next few hours. Why not ask them a few questions and learn from them?

Why not indeed?

Maybe because it would entail the added work of listening and responding to customer inputs.
There’s also the fear of losing control” The whole fear of not knowing what they’ll say and what the airline would have to do to address it. Ignorance is bliss, after all.
Plus, there’s executive arrogance—I’m the one with the corner office; I’m the expert on what customers want! What to they know?

It so much easier to say something meaningless but politically correct, like—”Oh! Our customers always expect the best” Roll Eyes

All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change.—G. K. Chesterton

Posted 05-May-2005 03:36 AM

Your query was very interesting. Im very interested in knowing more about your thesis and the progress in your thesis.

Thank You

copparapu bobby(choudesh)

Posted 26-Sep-2006 02:05 PM
ebay,ubid and many other customer based web-sites are promoting lot of their products to have high-level interaction to sell their goods at the lower cost to deliver to them on promising date. air-line industry now-a-days having lot of problems with their employees and also the pricing problem. The tickets which are issuing over the e-channel system are not really satisfactory because the destinations which air-line industry choosen may not be the destination for us. Therefore, sometimes, the ticket are much more high rates or pricing than expected.

International travelling tickets are not available within the pricing range as per the customer’s(reasonable) expectation. He has to plan much before the customer has to fly. Obviously customer is unhappy. Apart from that the more customers are not really happy because of flight-schedules or unavailability of flights to the destinations wherever they have to go.

Always the customer needs the best service with respect to the time that has been planed by him. e-channeling systems are working well for the customer services but apart from their services most of the time the tickets issued are not available at the price they invoiced to us.

Customer satisfaction measurement can only be evaluated on the basis of the choosing or opting the air-line organization repeatedly and their contribution towards that industry would bring an idea how best the customer was satisfied by the organization.

choudesh copparapu
SFA/CRM/Data Integration specialist
Sea Shells Data Warehouse


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