The Airline Industry, just like any other service provider, has had to confront issues associated with service quality. Service quality involves understanding customers’ expectations in comparison to company’s performance. Quality of the service determines customer’s satisfaction which is essential in a competitive market. Customer’s satisfaction highly depends on the dimensions of service quality referred as SERVQUAL which includes various considerations like reliability, tangibles, assurance, empathy, and responsiveness. SERVQUAL guarantees not only customers’ satisfaction but also loyalty, retention, and company’s performance superiority (Parasuraman, 1988). This shows that quality in a service industry is vital in its marketing strategy.
In the airline industry, service quality has become a key consideration in marketing strategy since the beginning of airline deregulation. Competition in the airline industry has led to improvements in the services offered in this industry. To meet the standards required, and to be ever improving, companies have to deal with issues associated with service quality (Keith, 1961). These issues involve customers’ satisfaction, expectations, service performance, and changes in services.
A competitive airline company has to first and foremost address complaints emanating from unsatisfied customers. This helps in knowing what they lack in order to determine what needs to be improved in the company. For instance, time in air travel is one of the major factors that contribute to airline satisfaction. Customers gauge an airline company using its on-time performance. Delaying of taking off or landing times are things that should be avoided if an airline company has to survive in the industry. Identifying dissatisfied customers involves research which helps in understanding the areas that need improvements. Every company faces a hard task in implementation of changes geared towards improvements since its different customers have different opinions about the services offered. In trying to satisfy all customers a company has to increase its expenditures in offering of first, economy or tourist classes in order to accommodate all types of clients. This fact has seen many airline companies that emerged after deregulation in the United States exiting the market for failing to meet the customers’ needs (Dawna & Dawna, 1998).
Discovering customers’ requirements and expectations is also an important aspect in researching for improvements in service quality in the airline industry. The comfort of aircrafts seats is a requirement that customers use in selecting an airline company to travel in. An airline company has to discover what customers require in their seats such as adjustments, texture, and proximity to the window among others. Providing all seats adjacent to the windows is uneconomical since it will mean reducing the number of seats. Each row usually has two or at at least three seats and removing the seats not adjacent to the windows however reduces the number of passengers boarding the aircraft which in turn reduces the income earned by the airline company. This issue can be tackled by offering different classes that suit customers’ needs in regard to what they can pay (Caves, 1962).
An airline company has to forecast future expectations. This involves its expectation about the market together with customers’ future expectations of the firm. Forecasting helps in improving the quality of services and understanding what changes are to be made. Most customers expect prices to fall in the future. In dealing with the issue of prices, an airline company has to come up with better marketing strategies that will ensure that they meet the expectations of their customers. Such strategies include Frequent Flier Program (FPP). FPP is a program that offers low fares to frequent customers. FPP mostly works for small or emerging airline companies competing with large and already established airline companies.
Change in service is also an issue associated with service quality. Change in routes is an example of changes of service in an airline industry. An airline industry may decide to change its route due to many reasons such as weather, war, cost, or increase in customers in a certain route. This change may be advantageous to others and disadvantageous to some. Changes need to be gauged for in terms of their effectiveness. A change in service has to fulfill the company requirement and at the same time guaranteeing customers’ satisfaction. Gauging effectiveness of any changes implemented is based on certainties which call for expert assessment (Merlin & Fareena, 2001). In addition to making changes a company has to keep track of the repercussions of their changes. Monitoring of the changes is essential in determining their effectiveness.
In service quality, a company performance has to be assessed in comparison with its competitors. Since the airline deregulation, companies have always sought out to outdo each other. Any company’s performance is vital to its survival in the industry. An airline company performing well increases its customer’s base. The need of expansion entirely depends on the current performance. If an airline company is to expand its business operations, it has to assess its financial position in the targeted market.
In addition, service performance can be assessed by the appraisal and rewards a company offers to its workers. An example of reward an airline company can get is the World Airline Award. Such an award is a measure of performance which shows that the quality of services offered by the company is the best according to worldwide standards. Appraisal of a company’s employees also motivates its staff in their performance.
- Caves, R. (1962). Air Transport and its Regulators: An Industry Study. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Dawna L. R. & Dawna L. R. (1998). Service quality in the US airline industry: progress and problems. Journal of Managing Service Quality, 8(5), 306-311
- Keith J. Mason. (2001). Marketing low-cost airline services to business travelers. Journal of Air Transport Management, 7, 103-109
- Merlin C. S. Jr & Fareena Sultan. (2000). International service variants: airline passenger expectations and perceptions of service quality. journal of services marketing, 14(3), 145 148.
- Parasuraman, A., Berry, L.L. and Zeithaml, V.A. (1988). SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring customer perceptions of service quality. Journal of Retailing, 64(1), 12-40.