ACI-NA Airports Learn of Dubai’s Customer Service Secrets

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By Tom Smith
The North American airports at the ACI-NA Customer Service Seminar on Thursday got insight as to how one of the world’s great customer service airports, Dubai International Airport, creates its customer service ambiance.

Rimzie Ismail

With the goal of being the world’s busiest airport by 2020, Dubai Airports is positioning its current airport and its second airports, which will have the capacity to handle 160 million passengers, to win, said Rimzie Ismail, its customer service manager.

Dubai considers the traveler as its secondary customer while the airlines are its primary customers. The airport has pioneered a one-stop shop system to sign a new carrier within a week.

The first stop for good customer service for a carrier is air traffic control. Ismail said the airport survey pilots on the function of control tower to improve a carrier’s operations and reduce delays.

Turing to the traveler, Ismail said airports cannot be mere infrastructure providers. The key is service, service, service, which has to be ingrained in every single employee.

Since 60 percent of Dubai’s passengers are “global homo sapiens,” Ismail said it is important to understand different cultures and then find a balance on a common platform. She noted that 157 different nationalities are found among the Dubai employees.

It is important to understand and recognize passenger segmentation – what are the customers looking for – and to look at the customer’s psyche at each touch point between curb and boarding.

Ismail said the senior management must be committed and practice that commitment. She noted that the airport’s CEO will pick up paper off the floor.

As part of the management’s commitment to customer service, Ismail said the CEO receives a daily report on how the airport is functioning, including customer complaints.

Service recovery begins immediately as 600 customer care employees are “empowered” to do whatever they can to make a customer feel better. She added that she receives on a daily basis any customer complaints so she can work to change the process that caused the problem.