IRS, Independent Research Study

IRS, Independent Research Study

Running head: CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN AEROFLOT AIRLINES
Customer Satisfaction in Aeroflot Airlines
How can Aeroflot improve customer satisfaction in comparison with Finnair and Austrian Airlines?
Daria Gallyamova
Glion Institute of Higher Education
Tutor: Edmond Schofield
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Executive Summary
The purpose of this research was to examine the factors that have an influence on customers’ satisfaction in Aeroflot Company in comparison to Finnair and Austrian Airlines. The study focused merely on the secondary data of the customers’ negative reviews of economy class passengers for the period 2012-2014 taken from noncommercial website Skytrax. The theories such as the Customer Satisfaction Pyramid (Cook, 2012) and Kano’s model (1984) were reviewed and used in order to find out, which of Skytrax categories have the direct correlation with customers’ satisfaction.
The results of this paper revealed that the most amount of passengers complained about “staff service” and the further analysis showed that only this category service has the most and absolute influence on customers, while other Skytrax categories relates to the basic or additional requirements of passengers.
In conclusion, based on the research’s findings, it was suggested to rise the benefits and the awards for the employees, in order to increase their working motivation, which reflectes on customers according to Herzberg theory (1968). In addition, it was proposed to improve language skills and staff’s attitude since these characteristics were one of the major passengers’ concerns regarding the cabin crew. Finally, the study requires the further primary research, which may contribute and place an emphasis on the HR practices.
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Contents
1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
1.1 Aim and Objectives ………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
1.2 Customer satisfaction in airlines ………………………………………………………………… 4
1.3 Competition …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
1.4 Method of investigation ……………………………………………………………………………. 9
2. Data Analysis and Presentation ………………………………………………………………….. 12
2.1 Customers review analysis ………………………………………………………………………. 12
2.2 Value for money …………………………………………………………………………………… 13
2.2.1 Key findings. …………………………………………………………………………………… 16
2.3 Staff service ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16
2.3.1 Key findings. …………………………………………………………………………………… 20
2.4 Seat Comfort ………………………………………………………………………………………… 21
2.4.1 Key findings. …………………………………………………………………………………… 24
2.5 Catering ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
2.5.1 Key findings. …………………………………………………………………………………… 27
2.6 Entertainment ………………………………………………………………………………………. 27
2.6.1 Key findings. …………………………………………………………………………………… 29
3. Conclusion and Managerial Implications and Applications …………………………. 30
3.1 Managerial Application ………………………………………………………………………… 30
References …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 12
Appendix 1 Aeroflot customer’s negative reviews from Skytrax (2012-2014) … Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix 2 Finnair customer’s negative reviews from Skytrax (2012-2014) ….. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix 3 Austrian customer’s negative reviews from Skytrax (2012-2014) … Error! Bookmark not defined.
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Appendix 4 Aeroflot customers’ negative review analysisError! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix 5 Finnair airlines customers’ negative review analysisError! Bookmark not defined.6
Appendix 6 Austrian airlines customers’ negative review analysisError! Bookmark not defined.
Table of Figures and Tables
Figure 1. Satisfaction Pyramid …………………………………………………………………………… 5
Figure 2. Kano’s Model of customer satisfaction………………………………………………….. 6
Figure 3. Annual Passenger Share of Airline Marlet 2013 …………………………………….. 8
Figure 4. Percentage of negative and positive reviews ………………………………………… 10
Figure 5. Schedule Passengers (in millions) ………………………………………………………. 11
Figure 6. Number and type of planes per company ……………………………………………. 11
Figure 7. Overall Evaluation of Airlines ……………………………………………………………. 12
Figure 8. The amount of complaints per category ……………………………………………… 13
Figure 9. Value for Money Rating ……………………………………………………………………. 14
Figure 10. Staff Service Valuation ……………………………………………………………………. 17
Figure 11. Cabin Staff Service Valuation by Category ……………………………………….. 18
Figure 12. Number of Employees 2010-2013 …………………………………………………….. 19
Figure 13. Evaluation of Seat Comfort ……………………………………………………………… 21
Figure 14. Catering valuation ………………………………………………………………………….. 25
Figure 15. Forecast of number of passengers …………………………………………………….. 26
Figure 16. Entertainment Valuation ………………………………………………………………….. 28
Table 1. Average fares for airlines ………………………………………………………………… 15
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Table 2. Seats’ pitch and width by company ………………………………………………….. 23
Table 3. Aeroflot reviews analysis ……………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Table 4. Finnair review analysis ………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Table 5. Austrian review analysis ………………………. Error! Bookmark not defined.
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1. Introduction
1.1 Aim and Objectives
The aim of this research paper is to identify and analyze key factors, which influence customer satisfaction on Aeroflot Airline in comparison with Finnair and Austrian Airlines; the possible ways of its improvement will be suggested. The objectives of this paper are the identification of customers’ dissatisfaction reasons by using reviews from Skytrax for all three companies, analyse these reasons in terms why they bring displeasure to the customers and understand which factors have a direct impact on customers’ satisfaction, by supporting it with companies’ annual reports, media information and other relevant literature.
1.2 Customer satisfaction in airlines
Over the past years, the airline industry is considered as one of the most fastest types of transportation, quick-witted and businesslike invention that ensures a beneficial transfer method internationally and domestically (Bazzan, Ossowski, & Klugl, 2006). However, despite these facts, recent years a lot of customers’ complaints have been monitored by different consulting companies such as Skytrax. Mostly, customers’ complaints are about flight delays, seat comfort, entertainment, poor cabin crew service (Skytrax, 2012-2014). Aeroflot, Finnair and Austrian Airlines are great examples of popular airline companies and are not an exception of customers’ dissatisfactions. It is true that it is impossible to totally satisfy every customer, particularly when there is 20,9 million carried passengers in Aeroflot, 9,3 million and 11,3 million for Finnair and Austrian airline respectively (Aeroflot, 2014), (Finnair, 2011-2013), (Austrian Airlines, 2011-2013). Hovewer, it is very crucial to satisfy and attract present customers rather than new ones, since it is much costless for the company (Gillen, 2005). In addition, return customers can contribute in findings new clients by using word of mouth, which
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is also cost-effective for airlines (Lilien & Grewal, 2012). Therefore, airlines companies should identify on which stage of satisfaction are located their customers and try to bring them on the highest level of satisfaction, which will make customers loyal and stay with the particular airline (Figure 1).
According to Cook (2012) there are four stages of customer satisfaction (Figure 1). At the lowest level, clients’ expectation and provided service do not meet, therefore customer has three ways of action: to stay with airline, to write a complain about the poor service or to talk about the bad experience to others. On the second level customers are satisfied, and can stay with company or find similar product from the competitive company. At the third stage, customers’ expectation are over exceeded, and the level of their loyalty is increasing. The last stage, when the company becomes number one for customers and they stay with it as long as possible.
Figure 1. Satisfaction Pyramid
Adapted from (Cook, 2012, pp. 5-6)
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As it has been mentioned companies should understand on which level their customers are and move them to the fourth level in order to maximize the customers’ loyalty and satisfaction. Negative reviews from Skytrax web site from Aeroflot, Finnair and Austrian airlines showed that customers belong to the base level of the pyramid. So that, according to Skytrax, the passengers’ reviews are divided by the different categories such as value for money, seat comfort, staff service, catering and entertainment, this will help to identify, which category needs further development. The next step is to identify, which Skytrax category is directly linked and changed the overall customer satisfaction. In order to understand this relation the Kano’s model (1984) will be used (Matzler & Hinterhuber, 1998). In this model, Kano (1984) differs three types of product that have an impact on the customer satisfaction: attractive, one-dimensional and must-be requirements (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Kano’s Model of customer satisfaction
Adapted from (Berger, et al., 1993) as cited in (Matzler & Hinterhuber, 1998, p. 29)
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Attractive requirements induce feelings of satisfaction and delight. However, if these features do not exist, customers do not experience dissatisfaction, since this product characteristic usually unexpected for clients. One-dimensional requirements cause satisfaction or dissatisfaction, therefore there is a linear correlation of the level of customers’ satisfaction fulfillment, the higher level of satisfaction realization, the higher customers’ satisfaction and vice versa. Must-be requirements are the group of product’s characteristics that must present in the product, the strengthening of these features gradually leads to the slower growth of emotional customers’ reaction. Therefore the paper will analyze and recognize the reasons of customers’ complains and the way of moving them to the highest level of the pyramid by using the Kano’s Model of Customer Satisfaction (1984).
1.3 Competition
As it is shown in Figure 3, which includes companies with the similar aircraft park, the biggest passengers’ share belongs to Aeroflot followed by Swiss Air, Austrian Air and Finnair. Austrian Air and Finnair has been chosen for the comparison with Aeroflot, because all these companies have mainly European market and similar strategy (increase in passenger share and revenue and be in Top 20 globally by approximately 2020) (Skytrax, 2014). Moreover, according to CAPA Centre for Aviation (2014) Aeroflot is positioned in almost the same group category in Cost of Available Seat-Kilometer as Finnair and Austrian Airlines having 8, 9 and 12 US cent per km respectively.
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Figure 3. Annual Passenger Share of Airline’s Marlet 2013
Compiled from the “number of passengers” (Austrian Airlines, 2011-2013) (Aeroflot, 2014) (Finnair, 2011-2013) (Swiss International Air Lines Ltd., 2014) (IATA, 2014)
Aeroflot and Austrian Airlines divide their economy and business classes into several categories, which allows them to have six, seven types of flight classes (Aeroflot Russian Airlines, 2014), (United Airlines, 2014). However, these classes are not available on every flight and companies reserve the right to change the classes at any time without any notification, but this is still give a competitive advantage in comparison to Finnair that has only two booking classes (Finnair, 2014). According to the annual reports, Aeroflot does not measure customer satisfaction and relies more on Skytrax evaluations (JSC Aeroflot, 2013), while Finnair measures customer satisfaction by surveys and provides overall statistics every year (Finnair PLC, 2013). Austrian Airlines does not report level of customer satisfaction in its annual reports.
9%
33%
18%
15%
25%
Annual Passengers Share of Airline’s Market 2013
EasyJet
Aeroflot
Austrian Air
Finnair
Swiss Air
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1.4 Method of investigation
The greater part of this study is based on the customer reviews, which has been taken from Skytrax (UK consultancy company) that supplies worldwide airlines companies and airports with customer satisfaction statistics in order to help them improve their quality and clients’ experience (Skytrax, 2014). Skytrax provides autonomous customer satisfaction research, which do not have any influences from any airlines, airports or other air transports, hence all reviews have been written by real customers, who wanted to share their experience and help others to choose the company to fly with (Skytrax, 2014). Based on the NPS (Net Promoter Score) approach, which is using to understand whether customers would recommend the company to others or not, only negative reviews (that are identified by the red cross in the category “recommended”) from Aeroflot, Finnair and Austrian Airlines have been taken into considerations, in order to focus more on drawbacks of the companies, the raw data can be viewed in Appendixes 1-3 (Whitlark & Rhoads, 2011). Moreover, customers, who put 0 in any category of their valuation were taken in account only if there are any explanation of the reasons why passengers put a 0. The companies’ strategies and annual improvements also have been analyzed and compared through the research for supporting and explaining factors of customers’ dissatisfaction with an assistance of reliable media sources and annual companies’ reports. The last 2,5 years negative reviews and annual reports have been analysed in order to look deeply in companies’ problems and see what improvements in terms of customer satisfaction could be done. Consequently, potential enhancements of customer satisfaction have been proposed based on the paper’s findings.
As it was said before only negative reviews from economy class has been analyzed, therefore 39 comments out of 122 total reviews have been taken in
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consideration for Aeroflot Airlines, 75 out of 247 for Finnair and 57 out of 204 for Austrian Airlines for the period 2012 to 1 August 2014 (Appendix 1-3). As it is shown in Figure 4 the percentage of positive reviews for the whole analyzed period exceeds negative reviews for all 3 airlines companies. However, this difference in negative reviews for Aeroflot is less than for other companies and constitutes 36%, therefore Aeroflot has more dissatisfied clients. According to Skytrax (2014) rating, Aeroflot is a three stars airline, when Finnair and Austrian Air are four stars companies. In addition, the sample size for Finnair (N=247) and Austrian (N=204) surpasses Aeroflot sample size (N=122) for more than 50%.
Figure 4. Percentage of negative and positive reviews
Compiled from customers’ reviews taken from Skytrax (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
Simultaneously, according to Figure 5 the number of scheduled passengers for Aeroflot is much higher than for Finnair and Austrian airlines for the period from 2011 to 2013. The big difference in number of scheduled passengers could be explained by the size of aircrafts’ fleet, which is considerably more for Aeroflot and contains 149 planes, while Finnair and Austrian have 64 and 75 planes respectively (Figure 6). Therefore, the number of overall customers’ reviews should also be higher in comparison with Finnair and Austrian airlines. This fact can prove the neediness of the research, since passengers might be not aware of the Skytrax web site and prefer to use word of mouth in order to
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share negative experience with Aeroflot. In addition, based on the Aeroflot strategy in order to increase the level of satisfaction and by 2025 join the top 20 globally companies by revenue and passenger traffic, Aeroflot should more focus on customers’ needs, wishes and desires (JSC Aeroflot, 2013).
Figure 5. Schedule Passengers (in millions)
Compiled from the airlines traffic reports (Austrian Airlines, 2011-2013), (Finnair, 2011-2013), (Aeroflot, 2014)
Figure 6. Number and type of planes per company
Compiled from the customers’ fleet reports (Aeroflot, 2014) (Austrian Airlines, 2014) (Airfleets, 2014)
# of planesA330A340A321A320Embaer 190/170B777B767B737A319IL-96SSJ-100F100/70B Q400Aeroflot14922266310157510Finnair68871110239Austrian736145672114
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2. Data Analysis and Presentation
2.1 Customers review analysis
In order to survive in nowadays-competitive market, airlines have to understand customers’ needs and wants towards the specific service. Once, the airline companies understand customers expectation, they can attract existing and potential cliental (Kayne, 2005). One of the important things for customers, for which they spent time during making choice between different kinds of airlines, is advertising and other passengers’ comments . So that customer satisfaction is a key, by which companies can identify their success in terms of customers.
As it has been already mentioned, Aeroflot has fewer customers’ reviews (Figure 4), which could be explained by the fact that Aeroflot does not promote to passengers to write reviews on Skytrax or on its web site, while Finnair and Austrian airlines send a survey after the flight about the experience on board for every customer, therefore the relative frequency will be used for the further comparison. Figure 7 represents the overall rating of airlines companies given by the passengers on Skytrax.
Figure 7. Overall Evaluation of Airlines
Footnote: completly satisfied = 10, totally unsatisfied = 0
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Aeroflot
15%
21%
15%
18%
8%
26%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Finnair
19%
9%
23%
28%
9%
9%
1%
1%
0%
0%
0%
Austrian
11%
18%
23%
14%
16%
14%
2%
4%
0%
0%
0%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
Relative Frequency
Rating
Overall Evaluation of Airlines
Aeroflot
Finnair
Austrian
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As it can be seen, most customers gave to Aeroflot no more than 5 scores out of 10, while for Finnair and Austrian the customers’ valuation is widely spread. However, Figure 8 shows that the most customers’ concerns are related to the low standard of staff service. In the following sections the factors as value for money, seat comfort, staff service, catering and entertainment, which influenced the overall passengers’ rating (Figure 10) will be analyzed, explained an linked with companies’ annual reports, reliable media sources, in order to understand which categories have a linear correlation with the passengers’ satisfaction by using Kano’s Model (1984).
Figure 8. The amount of complaints per category
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
2.2 Value for money
Value for money is considered as one of the main categories, which affects customer satisfaction. In most cases, passengers made their own perceptions and computation whether they got a value for what they have paid or not (Bud, 2009). The passengers’ valutation of “value of money” categore is shown in Figure 9. It is seen that “value for money” for Aeroflot is overall higher than for Finnair and Austrian airlines.
Staff Service
Entertainment
Catering
Seat Comfort
Aeroflot
90%
38%
33%
28%
Finnair
65%
53%
51%
53%
Austrian
93%
46%
58%
47%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
The amount of complaints per category
Aeroflot
Finnair
Austrian
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Figure 9. Value for Money Rating
Footnote: completly satisfied = 5, totally unsatisfied = 0
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints
The most part of passengers evaluated Aeroflot by three scores out of five, while Finnair and Austrian’s customers gave one and two scores respectively. So that it could be said that the Aeroflot is more valuable for money according to the passengers than Austrian and Finnair airlines. This could be explained by the fact that the most number of customers, as it was analyzed from customers’ reviews, use Aeroflot for long distance flights (more than 5 hours) because of the low fares (Appendix 4). However, according to Aeroflot’s negative reviews, many customers, who choose Aeroflot because its tickets were the cheapest wrote that it was not worth money ( “it was cheaper by less than 100USD, but not worth it”, “the ticket fee was steep, but the service should be improved, will not use it again” (Appendix 1)). Table 1 shows the average prices for the selected airline companies.
0
1
2
3
4
5
Aeroflot
0%
26%
15%
41%
15%
3%
Finnair
1%
32%
36%
31%
0%
0%
Austrian
0%
32%
32%
28%
7%
2%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
Value for money Rating
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Table 1. Average fares for airlines
Compiled from airlines websites and financial reports (Finance Company Region, 2013), (Finnair, 2014), (Austrian Airlines, 2014)
As it could be seen, Aeroflot has the lowest average price for the most popular destinations in comparison to Finnair and Austrian Airlines. That is why customers mentioned that they choose Aeroflot only because of the low ticket prices, but some passengers would prefer to pay more in order to get higher service (Appendix 1).
However, based on the customers’ reviews it is seen that “value for money” category sum ups and is based on the overall experience, which customers get from other categories such as “seats comfort”, “entertainment”, “catering”, and mostly from “staff service”. It means that most part of passengers made the valuation about the “value for money” by proceeding from the quality of the staff service (“The ticket fee was steep but the service and own rules should be improved. I will not use this airline in the future”, “The flight was cheaper than other flights, but it was not worth the money saved. The seats have less leg room, staff do not speak English”, “I would never take a long haul with them again – the seats and overall service leaves a lot to be desired, and overall feel is Aeroflot does not care about its customers at all”, “Staff seemed slow, unresponsive, I would rather pay a bit extra with other airlines” (Appendix 1))
To sum up, it could be said that although the value for money for the Aeroflot is higher than for Finnair and Austrian airlines, it does not directly affect the customers’ satisfaction. Therefore, it is related to the “basic needs” of Kano’s model (1984), because if company would decrease the price, it would satisfy passengers, but the satisfaction with the flight and experience with the airline would not change or slightly increase. Aeroflot Finnair Austrian Airline 579.19 Euro 668.5 Euro 642.1 Euro
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This category will more have an effect on the revenue of the company and the occupancy of the flights.
2.2.1 Key findings.
1.
Value for money belongs to the “basic needs” of Kano’s model (1984), therefore this category does not have a linear correlation with customer satisfaction level.
2.
Aeroflot is more valuable for money than Finnair and Austrian airlines.
3.
Passengers made the valuation for “value for money” category mostly based on the “staff service”, but as well on the other categories like “seats comfort”, catering”, and “entertainment”.
2.3 Staff service
Staff service is one of the categories on which customers’ complaine more (Figure 8). Airline crew is the mediator between the company and passengers, by communicating directly with clients and by this clients made their evaluation about the firm. Aeroflot, Austrian and Finnair airlines are not low-cost companies, therefore passengers expect full service, care during the flight and in airport. During the Aeroflot customers’ reviews analysis, it has been indicated that the cabin crew was unhelpful and rude with a lack of language skills (“I was not impressed with the cabin crew at all. Their service was not helpful”, “Slow, miserable, long faced staff”, “Overall service leaves a lot to be desired, and the overall feel is Aeroflot does not care at all” (Appendix 1)). These facts does not correspond to the Aeroflot’s policies, where it is said that cabin crew have a lot of trainings about the social skills, behavior and professionalism on board (JSC Aeroflot, 2013). Furthermore Aeroflot’s motto-“Sincerely Yours. Aeroflot” presents high company’s standards and meaning that Aeroflot cares about their
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passengers, hence all customers made their perception of the future flight according to this slogan, therefore when passengers did not receive the expected services, they become very disappointed (Aeroflot, 2004). Figure 10 shows the Skytrax rating of customer satisfaction for Aeroflot, Finnair and Austrian airlines.
Figure 10. Staff Service Valuation
Footnote: completly satisfied = 5, totally unsatisfied = 0
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
It could be seen that Aeroflot’s customers concentrate their rating mostly between 1 and 2 scores, whereas for Finnair airline the rating centers more between 2 -3 scores. For Austrian airline the rating is more violated, but the highest percentage of passengers gave 3 scores out of 5 for the staff service quality. Thus, it is clearly shown that Aeroflot’s staff service is less professional and not enough skilled in communication and satisfaction with clients. Figure 11 represents more detailed valuation of cabin staff service, which could help to look deeper in the problems of this particular category of customer satisfaction.
0
1
2
3
4
5
Aeroflot
3%
28%
28%
26%
13%
3%
Finnair
0%
16%
28%
29%
19%
8%
Austrian
0%
26%
21%
33%
12%
7%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
Staff Service Valuation
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Figure 11. Cabin Staff Service Valuation by Category
Footnote: completly satisfied = 5, totally unsatisfied = 0
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
According to this statistics, Aeroflot’s rating is around 3 scores almost in every category which is much less in comparison with Finnair and Austrian airlines, except the category “interaction with pax”, where Aeroflot has the highest rating. This can be also explained by customers’ comments, where they stated that although Aeroflot’s staff was rude, unhelpful and did not give passengers any assistance, in most cases they reacted quickly for the customers’ demand, while Finnair and Austrian’s staff was sufficient but may disappear after the meal service until the end of the flight, and customers were unable to interact and ask for the help. The category “language skills” Aeroflot also holds the last position and based on the customers’ reviews the major part of employees could not speak English (“They do not speak English”, “very poor English”, “the staff ability to speak English was average” (Appendix 1)), which shows that Aeroflot staff does not meet the international language requirements, where staff should have at least level four Language Proficiency, according to International Civil Aviation Organization (2014).
0
0,5
1
1,5
2
2,5
3
3,5
4
4,5
5
Cabin Staff Service Valuation by Category
Aeroflot
Finnair
Austrian
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All these drawbacks of the cabin service may be linked with the turnover of staff in Aeroflot Company. The figure 12 shows the change in number of employees by year in Aeroflot in comparison with Finnair and Austrian airlines.
Figure 12. Number of Employees 2010-2013
Compiled from airlines’ annual and financial reports (Aeroflot, 2010-2013), (Finnair, 2010-2013), (Austrian, 2010-2013)
It is seen that while in Finnair and Austrian airline this number slightly increase or decrease year by year, Aeroflot has a significant drop of staff number after 2010 and after this period this number did not achieve same account for the next 3 years. This dramatic decline by more than 10 thousands employees might be explained by the fact that in the end of 2010, big amount of people refused to work and quitted Aeroflot because of the unpaid overworking hours (News ru, 2010). As it was reported by Russian newspaper News ru (News ru, 2010) with a reference to RBC Daily, pilots asked Aeroflot to hire more staff, instead Aeroflot requested the Ministry of Transport to increase the limit of flying time and change the mechanism of its accrual. Moreover, in 2012 Aeroflot has failed to pay employees over 52 million US dollars (Hromov, 2014). Finally, Aeroflot’ pilots did not get any bonuses for their work since 2012, when the
2010
2011
2012
2013
Aeroflot
20640
28437
16418
17891
Finnair
7616
3565
3660
5803
Austrian
5934
6777
6236
6208
0
5000
10000
15000
20000
25000
30000
Number of Employees
Year
Numers of Employees 2010-2013
Aeroflot
Finnair
Austrian
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN AEROFLOT AIRLINES
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amount of awards from the salary constituted only 5% and was considered as law (Gorgeeva, 2014). These factors could decrease the employee motivation and therefore affect customer loyalty and satisfaction, since according to Herzberg theory, for employees is extremely meaningful to see their personal impact and importance for the company, positive feedbacks as well as awards for their work, otherwise the work quality could decrease (Sinha & Trivedi, 2014).
Based on the above analysis, the cabin service is related to the “performance needs” of Kano’s model (1984), since the improved on-board service would increase the level of customer satisfaction, and according to customers’ reviews, they would rather pay more to get higher service: “it is cheaper than over airlines but you get low quality service”, “it was cheaper by less than 100USD, but definitely not worth it”, “all they need to improve customer service” (Appendix 1).
2.3.1 Key findings.
1.
Customer Service is a very important element for the customer, and have a linear relation with customers’ satisfaction.
2.
Passengers would prefer to pay more in order to have higher and more professional service.
3.
Aeroflot’s staff service does not meet the international requirements.
4.
The high staff turnover has a significant influence on the staff service
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2.4 Seat Comfort
The marketing airline history states that the necessity of additional services and products can help to increase customer satisfaction and differentiate the company from other competitors (Hansen & Thurau, 2000). This is considered as an injection to “value-added special feature to the product on offer” (Hansen & Thurau, 2000, p. 322). Therefore, airlines have different kind of seats (space size, legroom, design) that influences the seat comfort during the flight and is linked with customer satisfaction. Figure 13 represents the percentage of customer evaluation given on seat comfort on airlines.
Figure 13. Evaluation of Seat Comfort
Footnote: completly satisfied = 5, totally unsatisfied = 0
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
As it is shown in the graph, most passengers evaluated Aeroflot with 3 scores, whereas Austrian Airlines has the lowest score – 1 and Finnair scores are between 2 and 3. So that, it could be said that Aeroflot has the highest seat comfort in comparison with Finnair and Austrian airlines. In addition, according to the overall amount of complaints
0
1
2
3
4
5
Aeroflot
0%
23%
18%
46%
13%
0%
Finnair
0%
33%
32%
32%
3%
0%
Austrian
0%
32%
26%
28%
12%
2%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
50%
Evaluation of Seat Comfort
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for the “seats comfort” category, Aeroflot received the lowest customer dissatisfaction in comparison to Finnair and Austrian (Figure 8).
Furthermore, it is true to say that the comfort of the seats depends on the airline and its age, as well as the flight class, because normally each flight class has different leg space and width (Doganis, 2009). As it was said before, Aeroflot has bigger variety of flight classes, and has younger aircrafts’ park in comparison to Austrian and Finnair airlines (Aeroflot, 2014). Therefore, Aeroflot proposes following economy classes: basic Economy class, Seats+ Comfort, and Comfort Economy. The seat class also depends on the plane type, hence, Aeroflot Comfort Class is available only on Boeing 777 and offers 38 inches leg room and 20 inches seat’s width, comparing with the normal Economy Class with 30-32 inches leg room and 17.8 inches seat’s width. Regarding to the Space+ Economy Class, Aeroflot does not mention that it is not a full flight class itself; Space+ Comfort represents one or two rows of seats that are located near the emergency exit, and not everyone can buy these seats, since people who are sitting there should be able to help airline crew in case of emergency (Aeroflot, 2014). Table 2 provides the information about the leg space (pitch) and width for the Economy class seats per company per airplane, which gives an overview of the differences in a seat comfort for passengers.
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Table 2. Seats’ pitch and width by company
Compiled from airlines’ fleet statistics (Aeroflot, 2014) (Airfleets, 2014) (Austrian Airlines, 2014)
In comparison to Aeroflot, Austrian airlines does not propose any range of leg space and it constitutes 30 inches for all airplanes, except for B777, which offers 31 to 33 inches legroom. As it has been mentioned before, Aeroflot also proposes the biggest pitch for B777 as well as Austrian airlines. Finnair airlines offers different legroom for each plane. However, overall, the range of inches for legroom is the same for Aeroflot, Finnair and Austrian airlines. Regarding the width of the seats, it varies from 17 to 18 inches depending on the aircraft type, therefore the 1 inches difference cannot be considered as an important issue. However, this difference in 1 inches may affect the customers and explain the high negative reaction in this category for Finnair and Austrian airlines (Figure 8). In addition, according to the customers’ negative reviews, it is said that “seats are small”, “the legroom limited”, “seat width was seriously reduced” for all airlines (Appendixes 1-3), but based on the analyses the provided seats’ space is the minimum requirement that is provided by IATA safety regulations, and therefore airlines could not minimize it. Regarding its extension, it is not cost-effective for airlines, since companies would lose the significant number of places and therefore the occupancy and revenue.
Plane TypePitchWidthPlane TypePitchWidthPlane TypePitchWidthA31930-3218A3193118A3193017,5A32030-3218A3203118A3203018A32130-3218A3213118A3213017,5A3303118A3303218B7673017B73730-3218A3403218B77731-3318,47B767 30-3217,8B75728-2918B Q4003017B777 Economy/Comfort30-32/3817,8/20E 190/1703118F100/703017IL-9630-3218,3SSJ-10030-3218AeroflotFinnairAustrian
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To draw the conclusion, it could be said that the leg space and seats width do not affect customer satisfaction, even if a lot of customers are complaining about it. Therefore, seat’s comfort can be applicable to the “attractive requirements” of Kano’s model (1984), because if the seat space would be increased, customers would be happier, but if it remains the same it may not lead to the dissatisfaction.
2.4.1 Key findings.
1.
Seat comfort could not affect or change the customer satisfaction, since the seats’ space size is the international safety regulation.
2.
The seat space for all airlines is the same or differs by 1 inches, which could not be considered as the significant difference.
3.
Seat comfort relates to the attractive requirements of Kano’s model (1984)
2.5 Catering
Airline customers often complain about the food service and quality on board, therefore in order to keep customers satisfied, airlines should provide good catering service (Lippincott Mercer, 2014). Normally passengers would preferably choose the airline with better on-board meal, that is way in-flight catering is one of the essential elements of the customers’ satisfaction and considering as an important marketing strategy in terms of the passengers’ attraction (Zahari, 2011). Based on the overall customers’ complaints (Figure 8), the catering service for Aeroflot has less passengers’ concerns, than for Finnair and Austrian airlines, which could be justified by customers’ comments: “tiny portions”, “the food was mediocre”, “the food was almost inedible”, “tasteless and overheated food”, “poor food” (Appendixes 1-3). Figure 14 represents the customers’ satisfaction with catering service for Aeroflot, Finnair and Austrian airlines.
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Figure 14. Catering Valuation
Footnote: completly satisfied = 5, totally unsatisfied = 0
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
The graph shows that most people gave 3 scores to Aeroflot and Finnair, while Austrian has the lowest score- 1. This difference in grading scores could be explained by the fact that all these companies uses different food suppliers. For example, Aeroflot is using Russian food supplier Aeromar, while Finnair and Austrian Airlines collaborates with LSG Sky Chefs (Finland Times, 2013), (Lufthansa Group, 2013), (Aeromar, 2014). It could be noticed that since Finnair and Austrian airlines uses the same food suppliers, therefore the same food quality, they both have the lowest grades from the customers’ evaluation. Dispite the fact that Aeroflot collaborates with Aeromar, and passengers mostly like its food more, it is seen from news that recently Aeromar payed a fine to the Russian Federal Service and Aeroflot for the violations of sanitary and epidemiological requirements, therefore it might affected the food quality and explain the reasons why Aeroflot has better food (Federal Service of Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, 2014). However, according to ITAR-TASS News Agency (2014) from 1st October 2014 Aeroflot will cut the onboard
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food for the economy class passengers because the company decreases the costs and expenses. Based on that, it could be said that the customers’ satisfaction might decrease around 12% as well as number of passengers who choose Aeroflot (Zikmund & Babin, 2010). Figure 15 shows the forecast of the changes in number of Aeroflot’s passengers for the first six month of each year, as well as possible decrease of 12% of traffic.
Figure 15. Forecast of number of Aeroflot passengers
Compiled from Aeroflot scheduled passengers statistics (Aeroflot, 2014)
As it can see the Aeroflot’s traffic increases throughout the given period. According to the forecast for the next 1,5 year the number of passengers increases as well. However, assuming that the number of customers might decrease by 12% because of the onboard meal cutting, there is a slight difference of two million passengers with an actual forecast. In addition, the trend shows that the number of customers for the second half of each year is much higher than for the first half of the year, but with a decrease of 12%, this difference will be almost imperceptible.
To conclude, despite that the most customers’ complains in Skytrax are about the poor food quality, the catering slightly affects the customer satisfaction and customer
0
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loyalty and belongs to the “basic needs” of Kano’s model (1984). If the food quality would decrease, it would affect customer satisfaction but not significantly, the increase in food quality will lead to the slight growth of customer satisfaction, which justify the Aeroflot’s decision of cutting onboard meal.
2.5.1 Key findings.
1.
The “catering” category for Aeroflot has less passengers’ concerns, then for other airlines, which may be explained by the different food suppliers.
2.
Food does not much affect the customer satisfaction and relates to the “must-be” requirements in Kano’s model (1984).
3.
The on-board meal cutting insignificantly influence the changes of number of passengers.
4.
Finnair and Austrian airlines have the same food supplier in comparison with Aeroflot, therefore Aeroflot has higher customers valuation in terms of food.
2.6 Entertainment
Nowadays, in-flight entertainment is considered as one of the vital things for customers, which they linked with the satisfaction for their time consumption in the airplane, especially for the long time flights, because for more than 5 hours in the iron tube away from home, passengers want to have some amusement for increasing the satisfaction of sitting in the same place for a long time (Flouris & Oswald, 2012). The variety of entertainments in the plane increases rapidly and today having only magazines and movies is not enough (Wolf, 2010). So that in order to gain competitive advantage, airlines are trying to implement the newest technologies on their aircrafts such as video
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN AEROFLOT AIRLINES
29
games, audio systems, Wi-Fi, TV programs (Wolf, 2010). Figure 16 shows the customer valuation of entertainment systems onboard.
Figure 16. Entertainment Valuation
Footnote: completly satisfied = 5, totally unsatisfied = 0
Compiled from customers’ negative complaints (Skytrax, 2012-2014)
It is seen that the in-flight entertainment in airlines companies most passengers evaluated as weak and put 1 score out of 5. Therefore, it could be said that customers believe that the entertainment service is low for all companies, which is also seen from Figure 8. According to the customers’ comments in most flights the entertainment did not work (“TV, rado and reading light were not working”, “no working video displays”, “the entertainment system did not work”, “old entertainment system”(Appendixes 1-3)). Furthermore, the customers’ expectations about the in-flight entertainment based on the advertising, which they have rea before booking a flight, but at the end the promises did not correspond the reality (“the inflight entertainment was just advertisement”, “videos on board out of date”(Appendixes 1-3)). For example, Aeroflot proposes amusement systems with the multi-channel audio-video program, where there are latest releases of TV shows, serials, and other programs, the movies are updated every 2 months, but
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according the customers’ reviews in the reality there is“no entertainment”, “no working video displays for entertainment”, “videos on board out of date”(Appendix 1). Finnair and Austrian airlines have similar amusement system and proposing different kind of TV programs, movie, audio, but customers did not feel these innovations during their flights “limited entertainment choices”, “no headsets, outdated Tom and Jerry cartoons”, “old IFE”, “no inflight entertainment or anything to help keep kids occupied” (Skytrax, 2012-2014).
Overall, the entertainment can be related to the “attractive requirements” of Kano’s model (1984), because if there would be a special amusement system in the plane it will add value and increase the customer satisfaction, but its absence will not dissatisfied or insignificantly dissatisfy passengers. The entertainment system is considered as an additional service for the passengers and its presence helps companies to differentiate themselves in the airline market, and gain the competitive advantage.
2.6.1 Key findings.
1.
The inflight entertainment system in all airlines was outdate in most cases or did not work.
2.
The on-board IFE can add value and help to gain the competitive advantage.
3.
The entertainment is related to the “attractive requirements” of Kano’s model (1984).
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN AEROFLOT AIRLINES
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3. Conclusion and Managerial Implications and Applications
The paper has described and analyzed the main factors such as value for money, seat comfort, staff service, catering and entertainment, which affect the customer satisfaction, and identified the reasons why these factors bring dissatisfaction to the passengers for Aeroflot in comparison with Austrian and Finnair airlines. Based on the research, it has been distinguished that the key driver, which has the linear correlation with the customer satisfaction and affect other 4 Skytrax categories, especially “value for money”, is the “staff service” (Figure 8), which belongs to the one-dimensional requirement of Kano’s model (1984). It has been discovered that the the staff has low quality in all companies, and according to passengers reviews, customers would prefer to pay more in order to have higher quality of service. The following managerial recommendations could help to move customers’ satisfaction from the bottom to the highest level of the Satisfaction Pyramid (Figure 1).
3.1 Managerial Application
Based on the paper’s findings, the first recommendation for Aeroflot is to rise the benefits and the bonuses for the employees. This, according to Herzberg’s theory (1968), would help to increase employees’ motivation to stay longer in the company and contribute more in the working process. If it would be done, Aeroflot may decrease the turnover percentage, show the care and the neediness of the employees and therefore increase the motivation of workers, which would have the direct impact on customer satisfaction (Herzberg, 1968).
Another suggestion, according to the customers and research’s findings, is the improvement of the staff attitude and language skills (Figure 14), since the situations, when the passengers are already unhappy with service and staff could not deal with their
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN AEROFLOT AIRLINES
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problems, could lead to the growth of level of dissatisfaction and even to the client’s loss (Kang, 2010). According to IATA regulations, all airline’s staff is required to have at least the fourth level of English and should reassess English language exam every 3 years (IATA, 2014). So that in order to correspond the international standards and increase the level of customer satisfaction, it could be suggested for Aeroflot to implement the ICAO Aviation English training program and exam (IATA, 2014).
Overall, as it was presented, Aeroflot has weak points that are needed to be improved. However, these research findings have some limitations and require further primary study. This will allow to better understand the Aeroflot’s HR practices and regulations that could give the better overview of staff situation and performance, since the more effectively the company manage their people, the more happier will be their clients (Jackson, Schuler, & Werner, 2011).
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IN AEROFLOT AIRLINES
33

Undergraduate
Hospitality & ESE

IRS Handbook

Semester 2015.1

IRS (Independent Research Study) INSTRUCTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Your Independent Research Study (IRS) is a capstone piece of work and the culmination of your academic studies. It should be a piece of work that you can reflect back on with pride in years to come and in many cases may be a part of your future career after your academic studies have been completed.

The IRS, as the title suggests, is an ‘Independent’ piece of work and requires a number of the skills, and the application of those skills, that you developed during your Business Research Methods module in Semester 6. It is critical that you adopt a structured approach to carrying out this industry based piece of research, and it is equally important to remember that primary research is not permitted in the IRS module. This, therefore, opens the scope of research to whatever may be found in documentary sources, and thus that scope may be seen as limitless and thus daunting. The purpose of this handbook is to give guidelines on how to ensure that this piece of work is transformed from a daunting task to one that stretches you as an individual and results in a positive learning experience, where the end product has both academic value and value to you as an individual in preparation for your career after G.I.H.E. Some of these guidelines may appear to be very directive, but they are designed to assist you to plan your period of study towards a successful conclusion, rather than be struggling to complete them at the end of your final semester. May I wish you every success with this module and hope that it helps you develop the skills that I believe will be useful in your future business career.

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SECTION 1
THE RESEARCH PROCESS

REFINING YOUR CHOSEN TOPIC AND RESEARCH SCOPE

IRS is a whole new module with a change of focus from the academic and theoretically based approach required in S6, to one of an industry based researcher who is looking for data to find the possible answer to a business question in the business domain.

The data gathering objectives from your proposal may be a good starting point for your refining process and should form the basis of your first discussion with your tutor. A list of your research questions, type and sources of data (that you are required to produce by the end of week 2 in advance of your first tutorial) should give you an idea of the scope of your study, but please understand that these will change throughout the course of your research process. This is where the communication with your tutor is essential to ensure that your data gathering effort is not wasted and that you are indeed collecting data that will help you answer your main research question. You will also find that you may want to delve deeper into the data that you do find and you must be wary of collecting data that is too focused and answering a more focused question. This will become more apparent with the greater the depth of the data collected and should not be daunting, moreover should allow you to exercise an inquisitive mind and one which is relishing the task, because after all you should be interested in the study’s subject area.

Some students, at this juncture, may wish to change subject totally. Whilst this is not advisable, as you will not be as conversant with any theoretical perspective as with your original subject, it is at the student’s risk and your tutor will not be changed.

SECTION 2
THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR IRS

Your IRS is to include the following elements/sections:

a)    The standard Glion Assignment front page including the signed statement of authorship and word count
b)    Title page Executive Summary
c)    Table of Contents
d)    List of tables and figures
e)    Introduction/Background
f)    Data Presentation and Analysis
g)    Conclusion and Managerial Implications and Applications
h)    References
i)    Appendices (if required)

STANDARD GLION ASSIGNMENT

The standard Glion assignment front page should be used with an amended statement as below. The word count should be stated

Statement of authorship

I certify that this IRS is my own work and contains no material which has been accepted for the award of any degree or diploma in any institute, college or university. Moreover, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it contains no material previously published or written by another person, except where due reference is made in the text of the IRS. I also understand that under no circumstances should any part of this IRS be published, including on the internet, or publicly displayed without receiving written permission from the school.

WORDCOUNT

The range permitted is 5000 words + or – 10%. This excludes contents page, references and copy
enclosed in boxes.

Students are required to submit the summary front page of their Turnitin report along with their final submission.

TITLE PAGE

This should contain the title of your IRS and you may wish to embellish this with a design appropriate to your piece of work.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

A summary, covering half to three quarters of an A4 page and including the purpose of the study, the scope of the work, and content of the IRS, method of investigation, the main findings and conclusions reached. The Executive Summary should be written in the past tense and in the 3rd person passive.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

This should be a tabulated list showing each section of the IRS and the page number on which it begins. Because the sections are numbered, then a numbered entry for each sub-section should appear in the contents list. Word can be used to do this automatically and it is recommended that you use this. It will also allow you to compile a table of contents automatically.

LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES

This should contain the number of each Table / Figure, its title and the page number on which it appears in the text.  Number sequences should be separate for Tables & Figures.

INTRODUCTION

This should be written from the perspective of an employee working within the organisation whose task is to research possible solutions to a problem that the organisation is currently facing. The business rationale for finding this solution needs to be explained along with a broad theoretical umbrella under which the scope of the research will take place. This should then be linked to the research questions which should clearly identify the appropriate sources from which data is to be gathered, and then the process of data analysis is to be explained.  This section is no longer to include a theoretical Research Design section as previously required in an IRS, and it is anticipated that it will be written retrospectively after the research has been carried out, thus explaining how the research was carried out. There will be a maximum of 5% of content permitted from the BRM proposal, and thus it is advised that this section neither resembles the structure nor content of the S6 work and should be written with minimal referencing to academic sources, although theoretical models may be appropriate to be presented and explained.

DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS

The data to be presented should be introduced, presented, described, analysed and then most critically the findings from the process need to be clearly identified for the use in the conclusion and managerial implications section.

It is important that data needs to be consistently presented and from the identical time frame (as far as possible). Sources need to be referenced appropriately and if data has been collated from a number of sources then all sources need to be stated as a part of the whole reference. If a table of figures for example has been reduced from its original source then please use the phrase ‘Adapted from’ and then the original source.

When analysing quantitative data, it is essential that ‘raw’ data is translated into data for your specific study and in order for quantitative data analysis tools may be used to carry out a minimum of time series analysis, trend analysis, regression analysis or the plotting of averages and percentages.

When analysing qualitative data, it must be exposed to a minimum analysis of tabulation in order to identify similarities and/or differences, key themes and allow for comparison between cases. It is not sufficient to simply describe the differences as you see them, moreover it needs to be clearly visible to the reader by extracting it from the text.

For both quantitative and qualitative data analysed, it is critically to clearly state the key findings that this has allowed you as the researcher to extract. It is advised that these are clearly stated at the end of each section of your data presentation.

CONCLUSIONS AND MANAGERIAL APPLICATIONS

The conclusions that you have drawn from the analysis of the data collected should be discussed in relation to your business question. It should also be discussed in relation to the previous academic research into your subject area, including the models that you may have introduced in the introduction to your IRS. It may also be corroborated by research that has been carried out in the sphere of business, most probably by Consultancy or Business Analysis Organisations, and should include reference to the corporate views of senior personnel in the your organization and probably competitors in domain in which your research has been undertaken. This section is the key section where you demonstrate your analytical skills and critical thinking and should be based only on the findings and results from your study. From this position you then need to extrapolate the implications of the findings of your research and its managerial applications for your business.  You need to ask yourself ‘SO WHAT?’ and in answering that, you can then make your own recommendations as to how your organization may answer the business problem identified.

REFERENCES

The in text referencing and production of a reference list needs to be in accordance with APA referencing requirements, listed in alphabetical order at the end of the work.

APPENDICES

The criteria for placing or not placing an item in an appendix are:
a)    If the information is essential for the readers to understand the points you want to make, then this information needs to be presented in the main body of the text.
b)    If it requires for the readers to constantly refer to the information in order to understand the text, then, this information needs to be included in the main body of the text.
c)    A file containing your raw data, including excel files and scanned copies of the front pages of formal documents (such as industry reports) needs to be uploaded in the file upload next to the Turnitin assignment on Moodle.

CONCLUSION

As stated in the introduction, the purpose of this handbook is to help you to understand the process of the IRS and to clarify what is required in order to meet the requirements of the module. If you still have queries, then please feel free to contact me at any time during the semester. My best wishes for a successful IRS!

You must go through the IRS guideline, and make a piece of work, regarding to my business question which is:
“How can Lufthgansa Airlines improve their customer satisfaction in comparison with Singapore Airlines?”

The work must be done following the guideline, and I have also attached the work of the student from last year that has similar topic, so You will have an understanding of how it has to look like.

You are also required to get 2 theories about customer satisfaction and identify them.

Please follow the work that I have attached but please make it unique piece of work, as this is my Diploma piece of work, and it will go through plagiarism programms in order to see if the work is completely unique.

If You gather the similar type of data please use different format, presentation, colors, and the order.
Also You are required to use academic references, books, articles. Please find some new ones, but You can take couple of those from the work provided (like Skytrax) etc.

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