“Survey data gives analytics, the number, but it doesn’t give us that emotional connection or the understanding behindthe number. Metis blends the two to support decisions that can really make a difference for the guest experience.” – Barbara Yamamoto, Chief Experience Officer – LAX
Reimagining customer experience: Airport Innovations
By Mitra Sorrells
Customer experience can be difficult to define, but easy to recognize when it’s missing.
It’s become the holy grail that companies seek as a way to stand out from their competition. And
for good reason.
In its March survey report, Experience is Everything: Here’s How To Get It Right, PwC
found 73% of global respondents say a positive experience is among the key drivers that
influence their brand loyalties.
And they’re willing to back that up with dollars – consumers would pay as much as 16% more
for better customer experience.
But how is that defined? Nearly 80% of PwC’s respondents indicate speed, convenience,
knowledgeable help and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer
This month we are exploring the topic of customer experience from a variety of angles.
For part three we take a look inside airport terminals, where a variety of innovative work is being
done to improve and ease the process of air travel.
As chief experience officer for Los Angeles World Airports, one of Barbara Yamamoto’s jobs is
to understand the problems and frustrations passengers face as they travel through Los Angeles
But with about seven million travelers passing through the LAX terminals every month,
gathering that feedback can be challenging.
About a year ago, Yamamoto implemented a new tool to understand what passengers are saying
– and feeling – about their experience in the airport.
Called METIS, the artificial intelligence-backed data analytics system from Richey International
analyzes text to assess both what is being said and the emotion behind it.
In the past year, the system has analyzed input from about 16,000 LAX travelers shared in
response to open-ended survey questions and public posts on Facebook, Yelp and Google.
“It’s giving us a really holistic, efficient way of listening to our guests,” Yamamoto says.
“Survey data gives analytics, the number, but it doesn’t give us that emotional connection or the
understanding behind the number. Metis blends the two to support decisions that can really make
a difference for the guest experience.”
The Metis system pulls out elements of every comment or post and relates it to one of five
categories such as food and beverage, logistics and Transportation Security Administration. Then
it classifies each one as positive, negative or neutral. The process begins with humans doing that
classification, but gradually through machine learning, Metis is able to classify on its own,
enabling scale and efficiency.
“I think this is the most pure form of listening to the voice of the customer,” says Kyle Richey,
founder and chief product officer at Richey International.
“This goes so far beyond net promoter score. NPS only measures satisfaction. We’re going into
the emotional level – does it make you happy or does it frustrate. This is where the battleground
for customer experience is today. It’s in their emotions.”
To add context to the analysis, the Metis system is also analyzing public domain comments from
other airports LAX has identified as its competitors.
“Because sometimes when you only view yourself, it becomes a bubble,” Richey says.