PTE Interview: Schiphol’s live passenger trials to improve the terminal experience

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Maaike van der Windt, director of customer experience at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, is in charge of making every passenger’s journey as pleasant as possible. Read on to discover how she does it – and don’t miss her presentation at this spring’s Passenger Terminal Conference in Paris.

What is your presentation about?

To improve and innovate the quality of service at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the airport’s Passenger Experience (PX) team focuses on improving the passenger experience. To accelerate this process, the PX team created a way of working based on so-called Living Labs in the terminal. In my presentation, I will share how Schiphol uses Living Labs for live testing with passengers, and how using a staged approach helps build strong evidence toward successful deployment. I will also disclose some of Schiphol’s PX improvement-boosting concepts on topics such as security, reclaim, hygiene and hospitality.

What are Living Labs and what do they do? 

Living Labs are test environments in which we test improvement concepts in practice – at Schiphol, with actual passengers. In this way, we give passengers a voice in which concepts we roll out. We use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for this, a method for measuring customer satisfaction. The Living Labs enable us to test in advance how an idea contributes to the passenger experience. The Net Promoter Score makes our working method data-driven and evidence-based. This provides the organization certainty in proceeding with implementation, which is a must, especially when it concerns bigger ideas.

Do you need a lot of capital investment?

Not always. The small scale of Living Labs also forces us to think small during testing. We can improvise and concepts do not have to be perfect or functional yet, as long as they can be tested on a small group of passengers. This results in an efficient way to improve the passenger experience.

Maaike van der Windt, director of customer experience at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Can you share some of Schiphol’s Living Lab successes?

Our first Living Lab at security turned out to be a real NPS booster; the local security NPS increased from 21 to 58. To be honest, this exceeded our own expectations, as we only added a few simple tweaks to the existing process. These tweaks were mainly on the human-to-human side. A so-called Security Genius reassured passengers waiting in line by answering all security-related questions, The Blue Man at the scanner relieved them from the feeling that they did something wrong, by calmly explaining Schiphol’s security process and why passengers needed to be searched.

To maximize learning, we wanted to understand why these simple tweaks more than doubled NPS. We found the explanation in the psychology of a positive experience. There are underlying needs that passengers are not consciously aware of, but which influence the way they experience Schiphol. The security check is an obligatory and strict airport process by default. Passengers have to surrender themselves and their belongings to the security agents. However, personal attention and tailor-made information make passengers feel more respected and in good hands; as individuals, not a part of the herd that needs to be rushed through the process.

Additionally, we started rolling out our new security scanners, which further improved the experience.

What future Living Labs are planned?

In 2020 we will focus on the passenger experience during construction projects in the terminal, as well as on NPS-boosting hospitality concepts, also during periods of disruption. Both are topical issues in the airport world.

What advice would you offer fellow airports looking to create something similar to Living Labs?

My advice is simple and straightforward: collaborate! In setting up the Living Labs, we are improving the passenger journey together with our passengers. As we truly put the passenger first, it also supports in removing boundaries between different (internal) departments. We are jointly developing true and heart-warming solutions for our passengers.

Schiphol’s Maaike van der Windt will give her presentation, ‘Improving Schiphol’s passenger experience with Schiphol’s PX way of working’, as part of the Customer Service & Passenger Experience stream at Passenger Terminal CONFERENCE 2020

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Christine has worked for UKi Media & Events for almost 15 years across a variety of roles. Currently she is Expo News Editor, writing about the new technologies on display and the visitors to the company’s trade shows. She is a proponent of the Oxford comma.

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