At the end of October, Southampton Airport, the smallest of the British Airport Authority’s six UK hubs, unveiled an ‘instant customer feedback service,’ designed to help staff deal with traveller gripes before they leave the airport.
The service, which echoes a system implemented at London Gatwick in August this year, requires users to send a text message to 80800. The message, which must begin with the word, ‘talkback,’ will then be sent to the relevant department for processing. For example, if a customer discovers that one of the airport’s toilets has flooded, the individual could inform the airport’s management via the new feedback service, and potentially have the problem solved very quickly.
Southampton boss, Adrian Cameron, noted that the 80800 number was more than just a gimmick, and something that could “help the airport be even more proactive in terms of our customer service.” Aggrieved travellers could even be met in the terminal or telephoned by a duty manager, if their concern is complicated or particularly serious in nature. Of course, airport staff will be hoping that the feedback service will collect compliments too, rather than a barrage of criticisms about submerged urinals.
Southampton’s foray into customer interactivity does seem a little dated compared to the service operating at Gatwick Airport, involving the social network, Twitter. The London hub has been asking travellers to ‘tweet’ their grievances to the @gatwick_airport Twitter address, via their mobile phone or personal computer. However, the success of Gatwick’s project hinges on the number of concerned Twitter subscribers passing through the Crawley hub, whereas the same service at Southampton is supported by the ongoing popularity of mobile phones – “over 90% of the public own a mobile phone,” Adrian Cameron explained.
Southampton’s instant customer feedback service began operating on October 20 2010. Text messages (to send and receive) are currently free of charge.