Travelers Say 'Goodbye' to Face-to-Face Customer Service

Travelers are gravitating toward self-service options available online and at the airport and away from traditional face-to-face or phone customer service, a new survey says.

SITA, an air transport technology company, found that while self-serve options such as online booking and check-in are widely used, "popular demand is now reaching out into non-traditional areas of self-service as airline passengers demonstrate their increasing ease with online, kiosk and mobile phone channels.

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"Two-thirds of survey respondents would use kiosks for other purposes including booking/changing a flight; purchasing additional services (e.g. baggage fees, meals), printing bag tags; self-transfer; claiming delayed baggage."

Travelers also revealed an openness to automated security and boarding. 70 percent of respondents said both were "acceptable," up from around 57 percent for each in last year's survey.

Funny thing is, this entire self-service movement is theoretically good for consumers. Reduced customer service means lower overhead for the airlines, which means they can discount airfares a bit, right? Of course, if you think any overhead savings will be passed along to the consumer, you're kidding yourself. (Let's also remember that moving toward a self-service model means putting people out of work.)

Financial implications aside, self-serve is a win for consumers. Airlines can deploy rows upon rows of kiosks at airports, a move that would cut down on wait times and could actually improve customer service by freeing up employees to focus on customers who really need help.

Readers, have you migrated toward self-service options, or do you still prefer some facetime with an airline employee?

Read comments or add your own insight!
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