Research Projects

Using Data and Behavioral Sciences to Enhance the Customer Experience through an Engaged and Skilled Workforce

Customer experience is a key driver of passenger satisfaction, airport revenue, and the overall ranking of an airport. Helping airports to become more people-oriented, to listen to the voice of their customers, and proactively meet the needs of diverse customers, particularly international passengers, will enhance the overall airport experience, and allow American airports to better compete with top international airports. To achieve this objective, airports must also developed an engaged workforce with advanced interpersonal skills.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

When examining current airport rankings, U.S. airports are not viewed as competitive with international airports by passengers. An analysis of existing social media data provides the same conclusions. In general U.S. airports have a poor customer experience because they are airport focused, not customer focused. They do not include the voice of the customer into strategic decisions, and this is particularly true for international customers. Many cultural factors that can contribute to an airport's success, i.e. physical design, perceptions of time and queuing behavior, perceptions of security, buying behavior, brand recognition, and a long list of other critical organizational outcomes. In general, these issues can be addressed by two broad activities. First airports must better collect, analyze, and utilize customer data in the decision making process. Second they must modernize their talent management practices to create an engaged, culturally competent, and customer focused workforce.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

Customer experience is a key driver of passenger satisfaction, airport revenue, and the overall ranking of an airport. Helping airports to become more people-oriented, to listen to the voice of their customers, and proactively meet the needs of diverse customers, particularly international passengers, will enhance the overall airport experience, and allow American airports to better compete with top international airports. To achieve this objective, airports must also developed an engaged workforce with advanced interpersonal skills.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

1.Identify both international and domestic airport exemplars for comparison based on existing rankings in the
airport industry.
2.Review all public documents related to the strategic goals of the airport, m
anagement philosophy, customer service/experience, corporate climate and culture, and employee talent management processes.
3.Content analyze all existing document and develop a categorization scheme based on emergent themes and
existing factors related to a
irport success.
4.Collect online sources of customer experience data.
5.Analyze and compare sources of data to identify discrepancies in the perspectives of stakeholders (e.g.
executives, customers and relevant departments such as HR, customer service, etc.).
6.Conduct focus groups to inform survey design.
7.Develop, pilot and administer customer experience and employee talent management survey to airport
executives.
8.Analyze survey data and compare and contrast to public documents and online sources of data.
9.Develop a set of best practices based on data analysis and solicit reviews from a stakeholder panel.
10.Author final report.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

We would propose an 18-
24 month research program, with the estimated level of funding being $425,000. This
funding would primarily be used to fund research scientists who are experts in data science, aviation, and industrial
organizational psychology. The team would likely consist of one PhD level investigator, two post
-doctoral
researchers, and 3 graduate student researchers. The funds would be used to conduct and in
-depth literature review,
develop an organizing framework for the best practices recommenda
tions, identify the best sources for digital
customer data (e.g. google reviews) and employee data (e.g. glassdoor), conduct stakeholder focus groups, develop
and administer a survey of airport executives and administrators, analyze the data, develop and v
et best practices with
key stakeholders, and author a final report.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

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