A return to skies hinges on trust, but are we addressing the key issues?
The aviation industry is facing one of its toughest challenges in its history. Against a backdrop of a pandemic with no current cure and a need for a re-energized global transport network, it falls on the airlines to reassure passengers that it’s safe to fly.
The news is littered with stories of airlines responding rapidly, introducing PPE, rapid testing, social distancing onboard, enhanced cleaning protocols and adapted hygienic customer service. Yet many of these activities have been done in departmental silos. Each department has innovated rapidly in a bid to build passenger trust, with every man hour within each airline focussed on finding COVID-19 solutions.
This piecemeal approach isn’t any different to the usual development of passenger experience onboard aircraft, but it has been exaggerated by the pressure the current situation. Working with major aviation brands on post COVID strategies, we are seeing first-hand the depth at which the OEM’s, suppliers and airlines are working cross-industry with biomedical and chemical experts. The industry is gaining valuable insight on how to approach a clean cabin, but as of yet, no individual company has managed to successfully connect the dots between the various parts of the passenger journey.
We are still in a period of uncertainty, and passenger confidence has been knocked. No airline can vouch for a passenger’s safety in the fight against this pandemic, as the airline customer experience still doesn’t match with CDC or WHO recommendations. Best practices have to be created, and airlines need to own the conversation with their passenger in order to rebuild the trust required to secure future bookings.
Passengers need best-practice guidelines. This is an opportunity for airlines to step up.
We have been journey mapping for over 70 years at Teague, diving deep into key moments in a customer’s journey. That same process is invaluable right now in building a ‘Clean Design’ framework to combat the pain points that are causing a lack of trust. After all, what purpose is blocking middle-seats if this comes after pre-boarding herds passengers together in an airbridge? “Am I doing the right thing?” is the anxiety-driven sentiment now present at almost every stage of the passenger journey.
Design Thinking can help airlines structure a holistic response to the pandemic.
Being a truly global industry, there’s an increased need for an approach to building new human behaviors across the passenger experience. Country’s guidelines to dealing with personal hygiene have varied wildly, highlighted by the current pandemic. While there isn’t a clear answer on the horizon, it’s apparent everyone is trying to do the right thing. The most googled phrase last month was “How can I help?” which resounds succinctly with the catchphrase of 2020, “We are all in this together."
It’s impossible for an airline to present a guaranteed hygienic environment, but they can create a strong brand preference by creating emotional connections as benevolent guardians, making passengers feel as safe as possible. This has to be based on trust, and that is earned by investing in a new program of hygiene. The good news is that this is already being researched and developed by Teague. We have created a ‘Clean Design’ framework that is firmly rooted in human psychology to elicit passenger trust through the pandemic and onwards into the future.