Emirates Airlines: Customer Satisfaction

Abstract

This research paper evaluates the level of customer satisfaction at Emirates Airlines. The research is motivated by the need to determine possible gaps in the firm’s customer service strategies. In the course of its operations, Emirates Airlines has been committed to delivering a unique customer experience. In order to understand the situation, the paper outlines the findings of a survey involving Emirates Airlines customers in Dubai. The paper is organised into a number of sections. A brief company profile, purpose of the study, and significance of the study are provided in the introduction section. The literature review section entails an evaluation of past studies on customer satisfaction and customer service while the methodology section outlines the research design used and methods of data collection. The findings and results of the study are also outlined. The final section entails an outline of a number of recommendations that the firm should implement in order to improve the level of customer satisfaction and performance.

Introduction

The UAE airline industry has been experiencing unparalleled growth over the past few years due to the high rate of innovation and technological development. Firms in the industry are increasingly investing in innovative strategies in an effort to improve their competitive edge. In addition, the airline industry is characterised by significant changes in the industry structure arising from a change in business strategy amongst the industry players. Emirates Airlines is one of the largest airline companies in the UAE. The company was established in 1985 and it is fully owned by the UAE government. Emirates Airlines has sustained growth since its establishment.

The airline has optimally positioned itself in the global airline industry with Dubai International Airport being its hub. Its headquarters are located at Garhoud, Dubai (Euromonitor 2014). The Emirates Airline’s success illustrates the firm’s commitment towards strategic management. Some of the strategic aspects that the firm’s management team has focused on over the years include investing heavily on fleet acquisition, targeting new markets, and establishing new routes. Currently, the airline has a total fleet size of 223 aircrafts and serves 134 destinations.

Purpose

The dynamic nature of the global airline industry and the change in consumer behaviour towards air travel presents an opportunity for Emirates Airlines to improve its competitiveness. One of the aspects that the firm should focus on in its quest to attract and retain a high customer base is customer satisfaction. This paper evaluates the level of customer satisfaction amongst Emirates Airlines’ customers.

Significance of the study

The study will be a source of great insight to the firm’s management team. First, findings of this study will enable the management team to identify gaps in its customer service strategies. Furthermore, the study will enable the management team to understand the market trends, for example by gaining insight on the customers’ expectations with regard to customer service. This move will play a vital role in enhancing the effectiveness with which Emirates Airlines adjusts its customer service strategy. Subsequently, the likelihood of the firm achieving an optimal market position will improve significantly.

Literature review

The aviation industry has become challenging over the past few decades. The intensity of competition has increased significantly. Archana and Subha (2012) argue that in a “highly competitive environment, provision of high quality services to passengers is the core competitive advantage for an airline’s profitability and sustained growth” (p.50). Baker (2013) asserts that the significance of service quality in enhancing the level of customer satisfaction has led to an increment in the rate at which organisations are assessing their service encounters. Such evaluations have improved the effectiveness with which firm’s management teams are in a position to plan their quality improvement programs and hence the overall firm performance (Baker, 2013).

Most airline companies have shifted their customer management strategies to service quality in an effort to increase the level of customer satisfaction. The quality of service delivered plays a vital role in nurturing a unique customer experience. Creating unique customer experience can only be achieved if a firm is committed to incorporating a high level of commitment across the various levels of service delivery. This assertion arises from the view that the achievement of the desired level of synergy depends on the interaction amongst the various departments.

A study conducted to determine the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer service in the transport sector showed that the customer service measures implemented have a direct impact on customer satisfaction. According to Gupta, Arif, and Williams (2013), the quality of service delivery such as addressing the customers’ complaints has a significant impact on the level of customer loyalty. Some of the customer service areas evaluated relate to luggage handling and on-time performance (Mishra & Mishra, 2010). Baker (2013) asserts that customer satisfaction is greatly influenced by the effectiveness and efficiency with which an organisation’s employees interact with customers.

Over the years, most airports have invested in luggage handling technologies in an effort to minimise misrouting of bags. Such measures can play a vital role in improving the level of customer satisfaction. Another area of concern has been the safety and security of passengers. Gupta, Arif, and Williams (2013) emphasise that two the “fundamental forces that drive the strategy in the aviation industry are safety and customer service” (p.2).

Methodology

In order to understand the level of customer satisfaction at Emirates Airlines, this study utilised the survey research design. The decision to use survey was informed by the need to understand the customers’ attitudes and opinions regarding the level of customer service in the company. The survey relied on primary sources of data by taking into account the Emirates Airlines’ customers as the core respondents. This decision arose from the need to gather first-hand data on customer service opinions. Interviews and questionnaires were used as the core data-collection instruments. A sample of 100 customers was selected in Dubai using random sampling technique.

Findings/results

In an effort to evaluate the level of customer service, the study focused on a number of customer service elements. Subsequently, their opinion varied. Eighty percent (80%) of the respondents interviewed cited in-flight services as their main concern in the aviation industry. The respondents said that they were satisfied with the level of in-flight services provided by Emirates Airlines. When asked what specific aspects of in-flight service they were pleased with, they cited different aspects. Forty five percent (45%) cited effective in-flight entertainment and communication technologies in the aircrafts.

Seventy five percent (55%) of the respondents were of the opinion that Emirates Airlines in-flight attendants are well trained and effective in executing their duties. On the other hand, 5% of the respondents cited effective in-flight catering system. The respondents said that they were pleased with the airline’s policy to provide customers an opportunity to select their ideal seat on the flight and to order their desired meal.

Furthermore, 97% of the respondents cited the effectiveness of the airline’s reservations and booking systems. Forty percent (40%) of the respondents argued that the airline’s online booking system has greatly improved the effectiveness and efficiency with which they book flights. On the other hand, 57% of the respondents interviewed cited the view that the airline has ensured a high level of security within the online booking system. Subsequently, they said that they are assured of the safety of their money through the online transfer system. When asked how, the respondents said that the airline has installed a secure technology known as the Secure Socket Layer (SSL).

Furthermore, the respondents were also of the opinion that the airline’s booking system has led to a significant increment in the level of control with regard to travel amongst customers. Therefore, the airline has succeeded in customer service to some extent, as evidenced by its recent win of the best airlines awards in the Middle East (World Airline Awards, 2014).

Limitations

This study mainly focused on the level of customer satisfaction amongst the Emirates Airlines’ customers in Dubai International Airport. Subsequently, the study did not evaluate customers in other destinations. This aspect arises from the view that it was not possible to conduct a survey on all the airline’s destinations due to the high costs involved. However, the study assumes that the findings in the sample selected reflect the prevailing market condition.

Recommendations

Considering the increase in significance with regard to the importance of customer service in determining the level of customer satisfaction in the airline industry, it is imperative for Emirates Airlines to take into account the following.

  1. The airline should conduct consumer market research continuously in order to understand the consumers’ perception on the level of customer service. This move will aid in the firm’s effort to improve its in-flight services and other customer service aspects.
  2. The airline should also focus on investing in customer service training amongst its workforce. This aspect will improve the effectiveness of service delivery, and thus the level of customer satisfaction.
  3. The airline’s management team should invest in emerging in-flight technologies in order to enhance the level of customer satisfaction.

References

Archana, R., & Subha, M. (2012). A study on service quality and passenger satisfaction on Indian airline industries. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 2(2), 50-63. Web.

Baker, D. (2013). Service quality and customer satisfaction in the airline industry; a comparison between legacy airlines and low cost airlines. American Journal of Tourism Research, 2(1), 67-77. Web.

Euromonitor: Emirates Airlines in travel and tourism. (2010). Web.

Gupta, A., Arif, M., & Williams, A. (2013). Customer service in the aviation industry; an exploratory analysis of the AUE airports. Journal of Air Transport Management, 32(2), 1-21. Web.

Mishra, D., & Mishra, A. (2010). Improving baggage tracking, security and customer service with RFID in the airline industry. Acta Polytechnica Hungarica, 7(2), 139-152. Web.

World Airline Awards: Emirates is the best airline in the Middle East says customers at the 2013 World Airline Awards. (2014). Web.