Over the past year, the Avports staff at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) have partnered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) to bring a series of customer enhancements to Terminal A. Following his arrival last fall, the Port Authority Executive Director, Rick Cotton, has made Customer Experience issues a priority for all Port Authority facilities, including the airport facilities. Working with Huntley Lawrence, Aviation Director, he set up a Customer Experience Working Group and, in partnership, we began a series of customer enhancements to the Terminal.
Some of the enhancements include: enhanced signage for contacting staff in the event of a problem in restrooms, enhanced signage for ongoing maintenance and out of service systems, installation of feedback devices in all restrooms, moving the taxi queue to the interior of the building, restroom renovations, adding restroom capacity, replacing flooring, supplemental air conditioning in summer months, window treatments, lighting upgrades, wait time monitoring of security queues, WiFi upgrades, and installation of lactation suites. Here are a few of the features that could enhance other airports in our system.
We have improved the way we provide information to our customers on out of order systems and maintenance in progress. In the past, we would occasionally put a hand written “out of order” sign on things, but that does little to inform the customer of when they can expect the system to be working again. Working with our Port Authority partners, a standard sign was developed that we can use for immediate closures and then modify for longer issues. Maintenance and custodial staff have a stock of these signs and we can make special signs as needed.
Restroom Feedback Monitoring
Feedback monitoring for the restrooms has turned into a useful tool for monitoring and responding to issues in the restrooms. The system installed is called Feedback Now and it includes a phone app that allows the custodial supervisor and me to have real time monitoring as well as a computer web portal to do trend analysis. There are other systems available. This one uses three buttons to get the customer input. Research has shown that the three button system gets more responses than the four button systems and significantly more than a system that requires the customer to enter any data, such as response to a survey.
Americans have come to expect free WiFi at airports, and many airports are providing that to them. At EWR, like all the PANYNJ airports, WiFi is now not only free, but also capable of supporting a wide variety of users. The system enhancements were done in three phases. First, the free system was expanded from 30 minutes to four hours. Prior to the enhancements being implemented, after 30 minutes, the system would “reset” requiring the user to watch a commercial before being allowed to log back in. This first enhancement lengthened that time period to four hours, The second enhancement increased bandwidth from 10 mbps to 25 mbps. A third enhancement, currently in the design phase, will again increase the bandwidth from 25 mbps to 50 mbps as well as provide coverage in areas where it is currently lacking.
These are only three of the more than a dozen enhancements the Avports staff, in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have brought to Terminal A at EWR. These enhancements are part of the Customer Experience improvements being brought about to make Terminal A, EWR, and the other PANYNJ airports world class.