Magazine article Journal of Services Research

Dimensional Analysis of Customer Experience in Civil Aviation Sector

Magazine article Journal of Services Research

Dimensional Analysis of Customer Experience in Civil Aviation Sector

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Customer experience acts as an emerging opportunity in this fast- paced highly competitive world especially in the new horizon of experience economy. The notion of customer experience, and its impact on business, is now receiving great attention (Prahalad and Ramas- wamy, 2004; Klaus, 2011). Managing the customer experience has be- come a crucial strategic ingredient for service organizations (Klaus, 2011). Airlines and other stakeholders are beginning to pay attention to customer experience (Graham, 2001) thereby improving customers' air travel expe- riences. Customer experience originates from a set of interactions between a customer and an organisation, which provoke a reaction. This experi- ence implies that the customer's involvement at different levels is rational, emotional, sensorial, physical, and spiritual (Gentile, Spiller, and Noci, 2007). Customer experience is the difference between what the customer thinks they should be getting and the experience that they receive (Mil- lard, 2006). Customer experience is intended at enhancing relationships with customers and builds customer loyalty. Creating superior customer experiences is now seen as a key objective for service organizations (Ver- hoef et al., 2009) in their efforts to build customer loyalty. The feelings and reactions of customers while consuming a service have recently been recognized as an important part of customer evaluation and satisfaction with service (Otto and Richie, 1995). The concept 'customer experience' was formulated in 1982 by Holbrook and Hirschman as a new experien- tial approach to consumer behavior. From a managerial point of view, the landmark work by Pine and Gilmore (1998) ignited extensive interest into a new management paradigm which emphasizes the switch from service delivery to experience creation.

The current trend in business world is to create lasting experiences for the customers (Carbone, 1998; Pine and Gilmore, 1998; Rowley, 1999; Berry et al., 2002; Gilmore and Pine, 2002). Differentiating solely on the traditional physical elements such as price, delivery and lead times is no longer an effective business strategy because the new differentiator today is customer experience (Shaw and Ivens, 2002). In the past, companies have primarily focused on the physical aspects of the product, while total- ly neglecting the emotional and value aspects and hence, losing many cus- tomers in the long run (Nunes and Cespedes, 2003). Additionally, Berry et al., (2002) argued that the emotion clues are just as important to the cus- tomer experience and work synergistically with functional clues. It is the composite of all the clues that make up the customer's total experience. To compete successfully in this customer experience territory, a growing number of organizations are systematically applying the principles and tools of total customer experience to generate, strengthen and sustain en- during lasting customer loyalty.

According to Pine and Gilmore, the experiences provided are directly related to the business's ability to generate revenue. Consumers develop the recognition of a company, brand, product, or service from the provider after they get experiences from attending activities and being stimulated by them (Schmitt, 1999). Experiences that are stored in consumers' memory are valuable information sources in that they act as internal information for future decision making (Hoch and Deighton, 1989). Pine and Gilmore (1999) opined that the world's economy has changed drastically from ser- vice based to experience based in the past few years and will continue to change as our needs and societies change. In years past, both research and management practices have focused on quality and productivity, as they are critical in marketing a business' services. However, their concerns are limited in addressing imperative issues like consumer experience. An ex- perience occurs when a company intentionally provides superior services to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event (Pine and Gilmore, 1998). …

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