Air France KLM ‘employs’ frequent flyers as mystery shoppers

Air France KLM_Quality Observer_2013This article is re-published with kind permission of “www.airlinetrends.com”.

One of the best ways for companies to gain insight into their customers’ experience is through mystery shopping audits.

Many people love to take part in mystery shopping – especially when this allows them to travel by air – as it lets them have their say and opinion on the level of customer service they receive and feed their experiences back to the company involved.

Air France KLM ’Quality Observers’

Many airlines employ mystery flyers and in return for valuable insight into the daily runnings of the flights provide undercover flyers with a free flight and paid-for expenses.

Air France KLM has come up with an innovative twist for its mystery flyers program and is introducing a new so-called ‘Quality Observer’ program.

Instead of employing mystery shoppers, the Quality Observers are recruited from the airlines’ community of Flying Blue members.

Within the program, Elite members from the airlines’ Flying Blue loyalty program will be randomly invited to join the Quality Observer community and participate as mystery flyer during their travel, according to booking data and the preset Quality Observer coverage and frequency needs per station.

This joint Air France KLM program is designed to objectively observe and measure if product and services are delivered according to preset specifications at every customer point of contact during the actual journey (booking/call centers are planned to be added next year).

According to Air France KLM, the aim of the Quality Observer program is to ensure a worldwide consistency in quality of service delivered to its passengers.

Mobile app

A special Quality Oberver app (both for iOS and Android devices) is made available for the Quality Observers.

To be able to use the application, Flying Blue members need to be registered as a Quality Observer with Air France KLM, which is by invitation only.

The app contains a questionnaire to allow Quality Observers to assess the compliance of the quality of service in airport and in-flight. The main touch points to be observed – both on a product and service level –  are:

Check-in, Lounge, Boarding, Inflight, Transfer and Arrival.

Besides objective -YES/NO- and actionable questions, the Quality Observer can also include a small comment in case of a non-conformity situation and, in selected situations where no staff or passengers are involved, add a photo to better illustrate their observation.

Quality Observers will be offered an incentive (Flying Blue Award Miles) when completing all questions and a special website has been designed as to keep Quality Observers informed about and engaged in the program (so that experienced members will serve as Quality Observer regularly).

Regular assessments, digital feedback

According to Air France KLM, the main advantages of the Quality Observer initiative compared to the former Mystery Shopper program are that all destinations and classes are now being assessed on a regular (weekly) basis, results are delivered promptly, there is more flexibility for ad-hoc audits (for example when introducing a new product on board), and the airlines save on the ticket costs involved.

A small-scale start of the program with 600 participants starts in mid-October and a full roll-out planned is in January 2014.

Air France KLM stresses that Quality Observers are informed that their mystery flyer status does not confer any right with respect to their treatment by the airline during their journey and that they are subject to the same regulations that apply to all passengers.

Raymond Kollau is founder of industry and consumer trends research agency airlinetrends.com, which monitors the global aviation industry for commercial innovations launched by airlines and airports in response to changing consumer behavior. Raymond is a frequent presenter at in-house trend sessions at airlines and airline suppliers around the globe, as well as at industry events such as the Aircraft Interiors Expo and Future Travel Experience.