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Frankfurt Airport as you have never seen it

SQMC's Karen MacKenzie describes the brilliance of Frankfurt Airport's 'Gate-to-Gate' service.

In this series of articles, I've been taking a break from my role as SQMC’s own QA Manager, and from Quality Assurance and international management systems consultancy and auditing duties in general. I've been taking some of my positive experiences and using them as real life examples of how certain organisations act to meet the Management Principles which sit behind the systems. 

In ISO 9001:2015 we have Principle No 1: Customer Focus - the primary focus of Quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations.

The rationale behind the principle is for an organisation to achieve sustained success by attracting and retaining the confidence of its customers and other interested parties. Every aspect of customer interaction provides an opportunity to create more value for the customer. Understanding current and future needs of customers and other interested parties contributes to sustained success of organisations.

Amongst the actions suggested as ways of doing this is: "Recognise direct and indirect customers as those who receive value from the organisation." 

 

Gate-to-Gate

So I'm going to describe for you my experience with Frankfurt Airport’s 'Gate-to-Gate' service.

Those of have read the previous articles in this series may remember that I am somewhat slowed down in that I’m travelling with the aid of a walking stick, so I had concerns about the short transfer time I had on arriving at Frankfurt and flying out again to Budapest. Frankfurt is a huge, labyrinth-like airport (complete with its own 'monorail'!), full of signs in languages not everyone understands. While travellers are keeping an eye on their companions, family members, etc.; managing boarding passes, passports, and hand luggage, it can be (but doesn’t have to be, as we'll see) rather strenuous and stressful. Fortunately, there is better way!.. the Gate-to-Gate service.

 

"it was a masterpiece of logistical interrelationships to run so smoothly within such a complex system as an airport."

 

The Gate-to-Gate service navigates you comfortably through Frankfurt Airport to your continuing flight, taking everything off your hands and freeing you from worrying and struggling. Picked up right at your arrival gate after you disembark, it takes you through all of the required checks to the departure gate for your onward flight. You cover most of the distance in a posh limousine right across the apron. Once there, the service employee says goodbye to allow you to board on your own. If there is enough time and you're in the mood for shopping, you can request a stop for this along the way. How brilliant is that? I thought! So I booked it.

 

Traveling in style

An announcement was made before I even got off the plane: "would Karen MacKenzie make herself known to the Courier at the door". And there he was, as I stepped off the plane, while the hoi polloi raced like lemmings towards their projected destinations. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the luxury of sauntering leisurely with my courier into the unknown, unexplored world of Frankfurt airport, down mysterious staircases that are otherwise hidden from general access, onto the apron, and into the limousine to cruise across the busy tarmac.

 

Appreciating the work behind the scenes

Just consider what logistics, communications, relationships, and trust that must have been deployed to create such a customer-focuessed service! Limousines travelling about under the wings of massive airplanes, across terminals and to the correct gates within their allotted times; not forgetting to stop off and re-enter the airport building to check into passport control, then back out onto the tarmac again to resume the journey to the departure gate. There I was – arriving at the gate by a mysterious door in the wall to the surprise of those waiting at the gate, and I had just enough time for a comfort break before boarding my onward flight to Budapest. It was a magnificent service and well worth the money.

I hadn't booked it for the journey back as I knew I'd have plenty of time, but I so wish I had. It's so easy and straightforward, and absolutely stress-free. But in addition to the practicalities, I just found it really interesting as a Quality professional observing; it was a masterpiece of logistical interrelationships to run so smoothly within such a complex system as an airport. There must be as much (if not more) effort spent in satisfying the indirect customers – airlines, airport services, delivering and collecting luggage, refueling aircraft, cleaning and refurbishment of cabins, passenger transport bus services, notifications from the control tower of changes to arrival times, directions and change of docking stands... the list is endless. To negotiate routes around these every day whilst keeping the passenger in calm, quiet luxury is quite an achievement.

 

The key benefits

And so, to reiterate the key benefits that ensue from engaging and complying with the Management Principle ethos, you find:

  • Increased customer value
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Enhanced repeat business
  • Enhanced reputation of the organisation
  • Expanded customer base
  • Increased revenue and market share

I found the Gate-to-Gate service absolutely fascinating, surpassing its promise to customers, and well worth it for the view – ‘Frankfurt airport as you have never seen it!’