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Changi International Airport in Singapore. Changi Airport serves more than 100 airlines operating 6,100 weekly flights connecting Singapore to over 220 cities from Shutterstock.com

Customer satisfaction for air transport improves while land transport remains unchanged

There was an improvement in public satisfaction regarding air transport sector, meanwhile the satisfaction on the land transport remain unchanged from the prevous year.

The Institute of Service Excellence (ISE) at Singapore Management University (SMU) released the 2018 second quarter (Q2) Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG) results for the Air Transport and Land Transport sectors on Wednesday (26 September).

The report stated that  the latest results, the Air Transport sector, scored 75.4 points on a 0 to 100 scale, which was a 1.4 percent improvement over last year. Meanwhile, the Land Transport sector scored 67.8 points, unchanged from the previous year.

The report said that the Air Transport sector comprises of three sub-sectors, namely, the Airport, Budget Airlines, and Full Service Airlines. While the Airport and Full Service Airlines sub-sectors performed similarly to last year, scoring 78.0 points and 74.5 points respectively, the Budget Airlines sub-sector improved, scoring 73.1 points, a 2.7 percent increase year-on-year.

With this latest set of CSISG 2018 results, the Budget Airlines sub-sector recorded its third consecutive annual increase in customer satisfaction.

Compared to Full Service Airlines, which saw relatively more modest improvements in scores, the report said that the difference in satisfaction levels between the two sub-sectors has been narrowing: in 2014, the difference was 7.2 percent, this year, the difference has narrowed to just 1.9 percent.

Furthermore, for the first time in five years, Budget Airline customers’ rating for “Likelihood to Repurchase”, i.e., their propensity to fly with the airline again, surpassed that of Full Service Airline customers.

“The performance metrics of Budget Airlines have been converging on Full Service Airlines for a few years now. This suggest Budget Airlines, beyond using price as a lever, have been successful in shaping what travellers deem to be a high-quality mode for air travel,” noted Ms Neeta Lachmanda, Executive Director of ISE.

The report then stated that the Land Transport sector is made up of four sub-sectors, namely Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) System, Public Buses, Taxi Services, and Transport Booking Apps.

It said that the Public Buses and Taxi Services sub-sectors recorded higher CSISG scores year-on-year, at 65.6 points and 72.5 points, respectively. The MRT and Transport Booking Apps sub-sectors recorded lower scores year-on-year, at 63.6 points and 68.0 points, respectively. However, these changes were not statistically significant.

Notably, the report noted that this is the first time since CSISG tracking began in 2007 that customer satisfaction with Public Buses outperformed the MRT system with statistical significance.

“The significant investments into the public bus system, such as the Bus Service Enhancement Programme, have seen the sub-sector record four consecutive years of improvement,” remarked Ms Lachmandas.

"Analysing the Public Buses and MRT sub-sectors more closely, it was observed that satisfaction, user trust, and confidence with the public transport operators were closely linked to commuters’ satisfaction with government intervention in these public transport systems," the report stated.

For instance, it said that the MRT sub-sector respondents had an average CSISG score of 67.0 points when they indicated they were satisfied with government intervention with the public train system. Conversely, MRT sub-sector respondents had a score of just 30.0 points when they indicated they were not satisfied with the level of government intervention.

Mr Chen Yongchang, Head of Research and Consulting at ISE, said “Improvement in several customer satisfaction metrics for our public bus and MRT systems seem to be tied to public perceptions of government intervention. Therefore, to most efficiently move the needle, our public transport operators should consider working closely with government regulators.”

According to the report, analysis of the Transport Booking Apps sub-sector also revealed a noteworthy observation. While the CSISG performance was similar year-on-year, two attributes, ‘Fares charged’ and ‘Attractiveness of app promotions and discounts’, recorded significantly lower satisfaction with customers, falling 7.7 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively.

“The consolidation of Transport Booking Apps and the larger private hire car industry over the past year has resulted in a measurable decrease in these two attributes, as well as predicted and perceived quality. Transport Booking Apps should consider how they can better manage these issues,” commented Mr Chen.

The CSISG 2018 Q2 study was conducted between April and July 2018. A total of 6,249 respondents, comprising of 3,539 locals and 2,710 tourists, were surveyed.