Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines Lead Airline Industry in 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings

We recently released the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 246 companies across 19 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers. Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines tied for the top spot in the industry. US Airways and American Airlines, the recently merged companies, ended up as the two lowest rated airlines. As a matter of fact, US Airways is the lowest rated company across any industry. Together, they threaten to become a customer experience mega-monster.

Here are other highlights from the airline industry:

  • The average rating for airlines places it at number 15 out of 19 industries.
  • The average industry rating remains steady at 60% (in 2012, it was 61%, and in 2011, it was 60%).
  • The highest-ranked airlines Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, both with a rating of 68%, eight points above the industry average. Alaska Airlines increased five points from 2012 while Southwest Airlines dropped five points.
  • The next airlines in the ratings, in order, are: AirTran Airways (65%), JetBlue (64%), and Delta Airlines (63%).
  • Delta Airlines improved five points from the 2012 ratings, tying it for the largest gain in the industry.
  • JetBlue has an unusually emotional profile. The airline’s emotional rating is almost eight percentage points above the industry average, but its functional and accessible ratings are less than three points above average.
  • Southwest Airlines leads in functional and accessible components and Alaska Airlines leads in the emotional rating.
  • US Airways (#246 overall, the lowest rated company) earned a rating of 45%, nine points behind the next lowest scoring American Airlines.
  • US Airways had the largest drop since 2012, seven percentage points, and earned the lowest score for all three subcomponents: functional, accessible, and emotional.
  • Here’s a link to industry results from the 2012 ratings.

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Report: 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings

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We published the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings. The report analyzes feedback from 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate 246 organizations across 19 industries. Congratulations to the top firms in this year’s ratings: Publix, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Chick-fil-A, Amazon.com, and Sam’s Club.

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You can also download the data for $395.

The Temkin Experience Ratings are based on evaluating three elements of experience:

  1. Functional: How well do experiences meet customers’ needs?
  2. Accessible: How easy is it for customers to do what they want to do?
  3. Emotional: How do customers feel about the experiences?

Here are the top and bottom companies in the ratings:

2013TER_BestWorstHere’s how the industries compare with each other:

(NOTE: We have published posts on the detailed results for all 19 industries)

2013TER_IndustriesHere are the companies that are leaders and laggards across the 19 industries:

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In this year’s ratings, 37% of companies earned “good” or “excellent” scores, while 28% are rated as “poor” or ”very poor.” Companies with at least a “good” rating grew by nine-percentage points since 2012 and by 21-points since 2011. Of the 203 companies that are included in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, 57% firms had at least a modest increase. The companies that made the largest improvement over 2012 are Citibank, TriCare, TD Ameritrade, Office Depot, EarthLink, Hardees, and Regions Bank.

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To view all of our ratings (experience, loyalty, trust, forgiveness, customer service, and web experience), visit the Temkin Ratings website

Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: Customer experience is improving, but there’s still a long way to go

10 Lessons From Asheville: Healthcare, Wayfinding And More

I was recently in Asheville, NC to speak with a group of customer service/experience executives from large health care companies. We decided to add on a few days to the trip to spend some vacation time in the city. Here are some of my thoughts from the trip:

  1. Biltmore Estate is worth a full day. We visited the Biltmore Estate, which is owned by the Vanderbilt family. With 240 rooms, it’s the largest home in America. It is a beautiful property; we had a great time. The tour of the house was spectacular; with lots of details about what it was like to build and live in this house over the decades. I was particularly struck by the detail in the ballroom and the fact that it has an indoor swimming pool and a two-lane bowling alley. The grounds are spectacular as well. We walked more than a mile through the gardens and grounds that were manicured by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York. As if that was not enough, the estate also has a winery (fun to taste, but we didn’t love the wine) and an adventure center. It’s a must-see attraction.
  2. Wayfinding is not a lost art. The self-guided tour through the Biltmore Estate was considerably enhanced by an extremely well-designed flow. As you walk through the building, the signage clearly marks where you are and where you need to head next. The guide book, which provides an easy to read paragraph about each room, uses numbers that correspond to signs in each location — so there is never any confusion about connecting the description with the location in the house.
  3. Chronic care requires more experience design. A lot of the structure of health care was built to deal with acute issues, but the world is shifting to be more about ongoing care of chronic issues. This shift requires people to have a more lasting and deeper set of interactions with the health care system. As this happens, experience design will become an increasingly important component of overall health care success.
  4. The Grove Park Inn is spectacular. We stayed at The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, which is a magnificent site. The hotel lobby is on the top floor and overlooks the mountains. There are places all over the hotel to grab a rocking chair and hang out with great views. The hotel is full of Arts & Crafts mission style furniture, which is one of our favorites. I only wish I had time to try out the golf course that looked fantastic.
  5. Doctors will become more experience-minded. During my session, we discussed getting doctors to care about experience. Yes, doctors are not the easiest population of people to influence. But the entire health care system is changing and doctors will increasingly care about things beyond just diagnosis and treatment — especially younger doctors who are entering a different environment. The key to getting doctors to “care” is to relate patient experience to some of the things that they do care about. There’s research that shows that better experience leads to better medical outcomes (they care about that) and it also leads to better word of mouth and utilization of facilities (which leads to more money to invest n research and medical equipment, which they also care about).
  6. Delta messes-up the little things. I’m a Gold Medallion member of Delta’s frequent flyer program. One of the benefits that the airline touts for this level (and higher) is early-boarding, which shows up as “Group 1″ on our tickets. However, in about half of my Delta flights the gate agent calls out Group 1 with other groups (e.g., Group 2 and Group 3) — eliminating the “Group 1″ benefit of early-boarding. Also, on our flight from Atlanta, the airplane sat on the runway for 45 minutes before take-off, but the pilot never bothered to give us any status during that long wait. As I’ve said in the past, good experiences often come down to these little things.
  7. Emotion is a critical component of patient experience. We’ve identified three components to an experience: Functional, Accessible, and Emotional. When it comes to healthcare, the emotional element is even more important than it is in many other industries. So companies need to understand how to design experiences to deliver the desired emotional response — and measure themselves against that goal.
  8. Noise is not the same as the perception of noise. One of the things that the attendees were struglling with is the noise in a hospital at night. It’s one of the areas that is negatively affecting their Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) scores. While they were discussing ways to minimize the noise levels, I urged them to also examine options for lowering the patients perception of the noise levels. For instance, if they made a point of explaining that it might be a bit noisy, explaining what causes the noise (keeping track of patients), apologizing in advance for any inconvenience, and offering ear plugs — then the patients would likely have quite a different perception of the noise levels.
  9. Asheville is a great destination. What a gem. The airport is right outside the city and the Asheville area is full of lovely vistas, good restaurants, and many, many interesting artisans. Here’s a piece of art that I found particularly meaningful.
  10. There’s hope for healthcare experience. The group of healthcare executives with whom I spoke, who are part of The Leader’s Board, are focused on important elements of healthcare experience. They are struggling with the same types of things that we see in other industries like measurements, customer feedback, and employee engagement. As long as groups like this continue to wrestle with these issues, and help their organizations master customer experience competencies, then the healthcare system will definitely improve the experiences that it delivers.
The bottom line: I enjoyed Asheville; personally and professionally

Southwest Airlines Soars Above Its Peers

I’m writing this post as I’m flying to Puerto Rico on America Airlines. Seems like an appropriate time to discuss my new report: Customer Experience Index (CxPi) 2008 Snapshot: Airlines. The research examined the results of the seven airlines in the 2008 CxPi: American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways.

The results are probably not surprising:

  • Airline experiences are mostly poor. The average CxPi score for the airlines was 65; on the cusp between an “okay” and “poor” rating. But six of the seven airlines received “poor” or “very poor” ratings.
  • Southwest stands out from the pack. The top scoring airline, Southwest received a CxPi score of 81%; a “good” rating. The next airline on the list, Continental, was a whopping 14 points behind.
  • US Airways dissapoints the most. Coming in at the bottom of the list is US Airways, with a “very poor” rating of 50%. That score earned the airline the 103rd spot out of the 113 firms in the CxPi. Northwest was the next to last airline with a 56% score.

It might have been a closer race if we had data for some other airlines like JetBlue and Virgin America. But there’s no doubt that Southwest does things differently than most airlines. The differences start at the top. I often refer to this quote from Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines:

If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.

The bottom line: The airline industry could use more leaders like Kelleher

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