Which Airline provides the Best Customer Service?

emotional customer experience

With summer now in full swing, many of you are counting down the days until your well-deserved summer holiday – only 62 more sleeps for me!  While some of you have had your holidays planned for months, I’m sure that many are still holding out for a last minute deal.

We know that the airline that you choose can have a massive impact on your enjoyment of your holiday.  A luxurious trip to the Amalfi Coast can be marred by a rude flight attendant or the realisation upon landing that your bag has inexplicably ended up in Mongolia.  Customer experience matters, as ultimately the emotions you feel about all aspects of your holiday, including the airline, influence your opinion.  Brands need to respond in a way that aligns with the actual customer experience otherwise things can go from bad to worse.

So how much value do you please on the experience of flying with a particular airline?  You don’t always get to choose your airline due to limitations on flight routes and date requirements getting in the way, but when you do get the choice how do you make your decision?  Which airline is the most trusted and which delivers the most joyful experience?

Here at Adoreboard we analysed online mentions of four leading airlines over 24 hours, and compared them on four different metrics to see how they stacked up. As a background, Adoreboard emotional analytics places brand performance on four indexes: Trust, Joy and Anger and Attention. This provides a comparison of the emotional customer experience that each airline delivers. If you knew this in advance would this influence which airline you choose?


Trust Index


The Trust Index measures the levels of trust in that consumers are expressing toward a brand.

Air France came out on top in the Trust Index, with passengers frequently using language associated with trust when mentioning their flights specifically in relation to the  help that they received from staff.  A key topic which was tied to a high level of trust for Air France was Airbus A340 – showing that there investment in new planes has paid off by improving customer experience.  Monopolising on this in future campaigns would likely drive high levels of trust to the brand. United were the least trusted of the four.  This mistrust stemmed largely from mentions of delays and cancellations, which appears to be a threat to the brand that needs to be addressed.


Joy Index


This Index assesses the amount of joy or amusement which is felt in mentions of a brand.

While customers hate aspects of the United Airlines customer experience, they do a great job when it comes to its help desk and the actual flight experience. This is driving the most joy toward the brand.  A key opportunity for United which emerged from the data is to capitalise on topics like the experience delivered by agents at the departure and arrival gates.  Mentions of these topics, although infrequent, drove the higher levels of joy and ecstasy toward the brand than any other topic.


Anger Index


This scale measures the level of discomfort felt by the emoter.  If a person expresses rage toward a brand they are likely to take action to correct the discomfort, whereas those who feel terror tend to feel insignificant and powerless to control their discomfort.

Customer mentions of United were the most angry in this sample of the airline industry.  A large amount of this anger was driven by flight delays.  Potential threats which were identified as provoking a large amount of anger were customer service issues and flight cancellations.  If these issues were addressed, anger within mentions of the brand could decrease dramatically.


Attention Index


In terms of the Interest Index, a company must decide which side better suits their own view of their brand.  They choose whether they want to create hype and anticipation around their company (tending toward vigilance), or surprise and wow the public instead ( tending toward amazement).  

Air France drives the most surprise in this industry sample, with the highest levels of surprise stemming from mentions of Airbus A340.  Topics which drove the most vigilance and amazement toward amazement-leader Lufthansa included people discussing their plans for travel.  


Customer service has been a priority in the airline industry since its inception, but this has become more important this week as TripAdvisor launched a new service which allows passengers to review their latest flight experiences.  The site already has thousands of reviews on many airlines worldwide.  The service allows passengers to rate airlines based on eight categories, including legroom, customer service, seat comfort, check-in, boarding and food & drink.

So according to our analysis, if you don’t want to start your holiday feeling enraged by delays this summer you might want to reconsider your trip with United Airlines and instead check out Lufthansa for a more comfortable journey.

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