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Enabling world class airport services through social data analytics

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad’s (MAHB) use of Big Data Analytics (BDA) enabled the world-class company to be proactive and responsive toward all public and passenger feedback – a critical factor with some 80 million people passing through their airports yearly. MAHB Customer Affairs and Resolution Excellence (CARE) unit working closely with its operations and commercial departments was designed to improve customer service acting on feedback from the public and passengers through traditional as well as social media channels. Berkshire Media was commissioned to undertake the massive effort to understand passenger behaviour by measuring customers’ perception and also to manage MAHB’s corporate reputation in the digital sphere. Real-time updates, weekly and monthly social data from MAHB passengers and customers were analysed using relevant keywords. Sentiment analysis and opinion mining were also deployed to predict customer sentiment towards MAHB.

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Challenges: With more than 80 million passengers passing through MAHB airports annually, the CARE unit was set up in April 2013 to improve the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) scoring set by the Airport Council International (ACI). CARE receives hundreds of feedback a month through traditional channels such as walk-ins, phone calls, emails and letters. These feedbacks, covering major airports within MAHB’s control, include suggestions, lost and found, enquiries, compliments and complaints.  In addition, growing internet usage by passengers and visitors to the major airports in Malaysia provide a new opportunity for MAHB to expand its feedback coverage to enhance its customer experience. Historical data from various social media channels recorded an average of 45,000 social media posts per month with an impression of 240 million users.

In 2014, Berkshire Media was commissioned to undertake the massive effort to understand passenger behaviour, by measuring customers’ perception and also to manage MAHB’s corporate reputation in the digital sphere. For the first time, official MAHB social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter were set up to encourage feedback, and an integrated social media communications campaign in conjunction with the opening of KLIA2 terminal was deployed. With a 45 million passenger capacity, KLIA2 is an iconic terminal to boost MAHB’s performance, mainly contributed by its unique targeted retail and commercial offerings attractive to passengers and airport visitors.

Solution: Real-time updates, weekly and monthly social data from MAHB passengers and customers were analysed using relevant keywords. Sentiment analysis and opinion mining performed using supervised machine learning algorithm in multiple languages were deployed to predict customer sentiment towards MAHB. Results alongside with recommendations were shared with the CARE team on a regular basis. The CARE team members, who are deployed at the heart of the action at various locations of the airports, play a vital role in responding to specific issues based on social media feedback.

The value of big data analytics on customer feedback management is significant as we challenge ourselves to provide better passenger experience in all our airports through new customer engagement channels such as social media. –  Nik Anis, General Manager of MAHB Corporate Communications

A set of management dashboards for the purpose of weekly and monthly reporting were developed to provide the necessary insights, highlights and lowlights of what the public are saying in the social media sphere based on various topics. These reports are highlighted to the management of MAHB as a means to improve the overall customer service through MAHB social media channels, on-ground customer service, operations and others.  Sentiment was measured on a weekly and monthly basis to ensure the overall public sentiment towards MAHB was kept at a manageable level.

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Example of a weekly sentiment tracking showing the positive (green), negative (red) and neutral (grey) posts from social media users on airport experiences and MAHB-related topics.

Business Benefits: Six months after the new KLIA2 airport was opened to the public, more than 200k social media posts were analysed to gauge the sentiment or customer satisfaction level of the new airport. The posts were accumulated through weekly and monthly analysis reports given to MAHB’s CARE Team. Using BDA coupled with the right communication strategies, the total number of positive posts was estimated at 72k compared to 27k negative posts, while the remaining posts were tagged as neutral. On a week to week basis, the number positive posts increased by more than 1000%. MAHB’s Facebook likes increased from 2,000 to 90,000 in eight months, while Twitter followers increase from 8,000 to 15,000 within the same period.

Positive posts were in the form of excitement, compliments and other positive experiences from the airports’ retail, ambience and customer travelling experience. Meanwhile, a handful of customer complaints on walking distance, food prices and parking charges were tracked and handled through various operational improvements. For example, on the issue of lengthy walking distance between the departure halls to the boarding gates, MAHB decided to install 16 walkalators in strategic areas of the airport to ease passenger convenience. In addition, free buggy service was aggressively marketed to increase awareness among selected passengers.

Never ignore the voice of social media. 45,000 social media posts by passengers going through the airports per month means customer satisfaction levels change every day. –  Shahid Shayaa, Managing Director of Berkshire Media

The Future: Applying predictive analytics on location-based social data will enable MAHB to anticipate customers’ needs in specific locations of the airport. For example, with location-based social media monitoring technologies, passengers who use social media to post upon arrival or departure can expect pleasant surprises from MAHB’s social media team. Retail promotions on selected products at the duty free shops can be made available by pushing targeted messages to customers at the departure or arrival halls.

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Location-based monitoring capabilities will enable better customer feedback management that addresses customer issues or complaints at specific locations of the airports.

Industry: Aviation – Airport Management

Big Data Solutions ProviderBerkshire Media is a fast growing social analytics firm founded by engineers, marketers and communication strategists on the premise that the best communication strategies are built with data-driven campaigns. Their approach enables companies to utilise big data analytics to optimize campaign resources, manage corporate reputation and risks, adopt behaviour-based micro-targeted campaigns and other applications.

The company integrates the best diagnostics and predictive analytics technologies to translate social data into meaningful insights for corporations, advertising agencies, communication strategists and campaign managers.  They have rigorously extracted and analysed a great number of social data to assist clients, which include a Fortune Global 500 company, large conglomerates and public listed companies, to turn knowledge into actionable insights in order to make better or critical decisions that can transform and improve businesses.

Client Profile: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) manages 5 international gateways, 16 domestic airports and 18 short take-off and landing ports that serve the rural and remote areas in Malaysia.  MAHB also owns or manages overseas airports namely Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkey and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad.  MAHB recorded a total of 83.3 million passenger movement nationwide in 2014, with more than 40 million passengers travelling through KLIA, its flagship airport.

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