How to improve the customer experience (just like LAX Airport)

Improve Customer Experience

In three years, LAX airport has improved the customer experience and transformed from an airport that customers tried to avoid, to an airport customers now enjoy.

Do you remember how frustrating it was flying through LAX a few years ago? Long lines, slow security checks, unhelpful customer service, and $5 luggage cart rentals!

Today, you’re going to learn how LAX has transformed their customer experience through the implementation of four simple changes in the way their handle customer service. I’m going to take you through some ways that LAX airport (the 6th busiest airport in the world) creates amazing experiences for thousands of customers each day.

Use these tactics inside your own company and stop making excuses that stop you from improving the customer experience. As you’ll see today, with only a few changes you can make a big impact on the experience for customers.

“Buyers report that they are willing to pay up to 30 percent more for a superior customer experience.” – Disney Institute

Here are the four customer experience strategies LAX used to improve their customer experience….

1. LAX uses information to give customers immediate answers to their questions

lax website

Jay Baer talks about using information to be useful to customers in his book, Youtility. Jay believes that to build loyal customers and win over prospective customers, you need to provide them with useful information before they even realize they need it.

You should create resources and information (blogs, FAQs, guides, maps) that are instantly accessible. Customers can then quickly find and discover the information they need – when and where they want to.

LAX Airport does a great job of providing useful information in the form of airport maps, passenger information, real-time flight status update, traffic info, and travel guides. Travelers can find everything they need to know right from within the LAX Airport website.

No longer do customers need to ask the service desk, wait around for 30 minutes and finally get an answer. They can jump on their smartphone or laptop, logon to free wifi and access the information instantly.

How can this strategy help your company?

Hubspot research found that customers spend 60% of the buyer’s journey before calling sales. You need to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior.

Customers are no longer using traditional customer service or sales channels to seek answers. They are now researching online and trying to answer their questions themselves. They are turning to platforms like Google, Quara, Facebook and Twitter to find these answers.

Will you have informational assets available to them?

When a customer is looking for more information on a topic, you need to position your information and guides to be easily found and read.

The beauty of this strategy is that after the customer has consumed your useful content, they’ll remember your company when they are ready to buy.

2. LAX exceeds customer expectations by focusing on improving the simple things

Exceeding customer expectations is the fasted way you can create amazing customer experiences. A study by A. Parasuraman, Leonard L. Berry and Valarie A. Zeithaml, posted by the MIT Sloan Review, found that every customer has a perceived expectation of the level of service they expect from a company before they engage.

When you exceed customers’ expectations, you create positive emotions in them that will be tightly linked to your company. Overtime, these positive emotions add up and contribute to increased customer satisfaction, sticky loyalty and greater word of mouth.

I want to share a personal experience with LAX airport…

Back when I last visited in 2011, I remembered LAX being very busy, stressful and frustrating. The customs and security processing (international visitors) was extremely slow – very inflexible for customers that had tight connecting flights – and the airport use to try and make money out of everything (including the $5 charge for luggage carts).

So when I came to visit in March 2014, I had low expectations. I purposely made sure my transfers were greater than four hours, I made sure I had some cash for a luggage cart, and I downloaded all the airport information prior to leaving just in case LAX wifi didn’t work.

LAX Airport ‘wowed’ me. Over the past three years the airport had really focused on improving the customer experience. Customs and security was super quick and very flexible – they offered express processing for travelers transferring on a tight schedule (big win). They also offered free luggage carts and wifi! Wow, wow, wow.

This customer experience made it a pleasure to transfer at LAX. As a customer, my expectations were exceeded over five times during my transfer and I walk away with positive emotions that will turn into loyalty and positive word of mouth for LAX.

I challenge you to think about ways you can you wow your customers and experience expectations?

How can this strategy help your company?

So how can LAX’s example of exceeding customer expectations help your company?

Easy – the morale of the story is it doesn’t take much to impress customers. The little things like free luggage carts and fast processing for passengers with tight transfers make a big difference.

Think about how much those two things alone would have cost to implement. Not much at all.

Improving small micro-expectations can really add up to create amazing customer experiences that build loyal, happy customers.

Related: Complete guide to customer expectations.

3. LAX leverages technology to create a better experience

Technology is a great enabler of the customer experience. Nowadays with marketing automation tools, workflow tools and customer relationship management tools, you can leverage personal data and information to create a better experience for customers.

The challenge is making sure you use technology to enhance the experience, rather than rely on it to create the experience (read more on this).

LAX airport has adapted technology to help be more useful to customers. They’ve taken a ‘Youtility’ approach – for example – they now offer free wifi for all customers which means everyone can access important information on the go.

They also have a free mobile app that you can download. Numerous benefits here – it helps customers check flight status and access information – instantly.

They have also adopted TSA Pre, which allows low-risk travelers to experience faster, more efficient screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints for domestic and international travel. The benefits of this include faster transit through airport security, shorter lines and no need to remove belts, shoes and jackets.

These three little improvements in the customer experience have been a result of adopting new technology. LAX didn’t have to offer free wifi, mobile apps and TSA Pre – but they wanted to – they recognized the need to create improved customer experiences.

How can this strategy help your company?

There are countless new technologies that can help you improve the customer experience. LAX have lead the way with technologies their customers could benefit from.

Your customers will probably want something different. You should speak to your customers and conduct research so you can find out what you can do to improve the experience.

Remember that you should first try to find out the requirements of what you need to do to improve the experience. Once you have that, you can go to market and find the right technology that will enable you to do what you want.

Do not go searching for a technology first and then adapt that to your customer experience – this almost always ends in shortcuts.

To help you get started, think about these uses of technology:

  • CRM tools for relationship management: Keep all data and communications between your company and employee in one spot so everyone can see it quickly.
  • Marketing tools to engage with customers:  Send trigger emails based on specific actions.
  • Online survey tools to measure customer satisfaction: Survey customers, get feedback and measure satisfaction.
  • Web analytics to track customer behavior: Measure engagement, number of site visits and page visits. Build out a customer profiles full of data to help manage the experiences

Related: Roadblocks to Epic Customer Experiences: Embracing Technology

4. LAX utilizes social media to answer customer questions and problems

A study by callcentres.net titled, The Facebook Effect, found that 50 percent of customers are more likely to buy a product from a company that they can contact via a social media page.

What that tells you is that your customers want to engage with you on these social media channels. The customer experience can’t stop once a customer puts down the phone or leaves your shop. You need to continue to create consistent experiences on social media.

For example, if a customer talks with one of your support staff, then puts down the phone and sends you a tweet two hours later – you need to be able to respond promptly to that tweet while referencing the earlier conversation.

Can your existing systems do that?

That might be a bit tough for some bigger companies who don’t have the right technology and tools.

LAX airport are big on social media and they have the tools to create consistent experiences across all touch points.

Here’s a great example:

lax tweet 1

And another…

lax tweet 2

In both examples, customers are wanting information via Twitter. They no longer want to call up the call center – they want quick answers and don’t want hang around on the phone with long hold times. Twitter offers the perfect medium for customers to ask questions and get responses, quickly.

Related: 5 Ways To Increase Customer Satisfaction Using Social Media

How can this strategy help your company?

Your customers are no different to the customers passing through LAX. They are active on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Since the big companies offer customer support and service through these channels, customers now expect all companies (including yours) to do the same.

Thus, new customer expectations have been set. You need to be on social media; responding to tweets, posts and updates. If you don’t answer back to a tweet within 24 hours, the customer will be upset and not enjoy the experience with you. They may stop doing business with you or tell others about the poor experience.

Does your customer experience strategy include a social media element?

Transform your Customer Experience just like LAX airport

In just three years LAX has gone from an airport customers use to complain about, to an airport that customers enjoy. Improving the customer experience is an ongoing project for the airport. By all means, they are not 100% where they need to be yet, but they are well on their way.

Follow the practical advice provided here to start improving the customer experience inside your company. I suggest you start with a couple of ‘quick wins’ that you can get approval for. Once you have proven the benefits of a better customer experience (increased loyalty, retention, satisfaction), then you can lobby to implement some bigger, more robust changes.

From my experience working with companies in this space, the big changes do take a while, so try to be patient!

Want to keep reading? Check out these blog posts:

Tagged: Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction

About Ross Beard

Ross Beard was on the marketing team at Client Heartbeat, the simple customer feedback tool. Learn how Client Heartbeat makes improving customer satisfaction easy.



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