Does Faster In-Flight Bandwidth Guarantee Better Customer Satisfaction?

Panasonic Avionics< Panasonic Avionics
01/11/22 5 MIN READ

When it comes to in-flight connectivity services, airlines don’t need maximum bandwidth to substantially improve the overall quality of customer experience.

That’s the core finding of a four-month evaluation Panasonic Avionics carried out in early 2021 with a major Europe-based international carrier. Our analysis, which measured Quality of Experience (QoE) in relation to bandwidth, found that customer satisfaction increases as speeds are increased, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to significantly increased consumption.

In short, customers liked faster throughput, but faster throughput didn’t mean they streamed, chatted, and surfed substantially more.

Panasonic’s advanced QoE platform metrics were able to accurately predict customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores related to in-flight connectivity.

The purpose of this trial was to demonstrate the relationship between the different passenger Wi-Fi package parameters and their impact on customer satisfaction. 

Our insights in network traffic and passenger behavior across 70 airlines enables us to provide recommendations to our customers on how best to optimize their passenger connectivity offerings.

Below, we delve into the parameters of the trial and the findings.

How We Organized the Trial

This trial ran from January 28 to May 31, 2021, in partnership with a major global airline based in Europe. The average flight time was between seven and nine hours.

The trial was broken into four phases, with each phase lasting one month. Changes were made to the passenger package throughput levels for browsing and messaging and their impact was measured.

Phases 1-3 explored the impact that throughput increases had on browsing. Phase 4 assessed how messaging was affected by increased bandwidth.  This separation was to determine whether browsing or messaging improvements were the primary driver of passenger satisfaction.

The Trial’s Main Findings

As the browsing throughput capacity increased from the original speed in Phase 1 to 8x the original speed in Phase 3, the ‘very good and ‘excellent’ CSAT scores increased by 38%.

In Phase 1, all off the original speed browsing throughput capacity was used, in Phase 2, 66% of 2x the original speed was used, and in Phase 3 there was 30% utilization of 8x the original speed. The additional browsing throughput capacity improved passenger satisfaction and the average user throughput also increased, but only up to a certain point.

When the messaging throughput capacity was increased from original speed to 2x the original speed in Phase 4, the ‘very good and ‘excellent’ CSAT scores increased a further 7% compared to Phase 3.

As the browsing throughput increased from the original speed in Phase 1 to 2x the original speed in Phase 2, browsing MB usage increased by 60%.  When throughput increased further in Phase 3 to 8x the original speed, there was only a modest 8% further increase in MB usage. This indicates that 8x the original speed provided a very good quality of experience, where passengers were able to complete their activities. However, it didn’t translate to significantly increased data consumption.

The messaging throughput remained constant through Phases 1 to 3 at the original speed. This was then increased to 2x the original speed in Phase 4, where the MB consumed for messaging increased from by 90%. This also contributed to the growth in customer satisfaction between Phase 3 and 4.

Key Takeaways from the In-Flight Bandwidth Trial

From the results, satisfaction was likely driven by passengers being able to accomplish more with their time due to faster loading, since they didn’t surf for significantly longer consuming more data.

As the trial continued, we observed that CSAT for each package (surf and messaging) increased independently of each other, showing customers grew more satisfied as each service’s throughput increased. Throughput and MB use plateaued after a certain point, indicating that once the most effective throughput is achieved, there are diminished returns by continuously increasing bandwidth. As expected, the overall CSAT increased most when both surf and messaging packages were simultaneously operating at their most optimized threshold.  

It’s worth noting that the optimum throughput level is not static and will continue to increase as online behavior, content, apps and services continue to evolve over time. 

This level of support can help guide airline’s priorities for connectivity bandwidths. These are the key takeaways, based on the data:

Airlines can elevate the customer experience through passenger package optimization for surfing and messaging. This pays off in the short-term with increased customer uptake, and in the long-term with improved customer loyalty and by showing customers you can deliver world-class in-flight connectivity for fair prices.

Accomplishing all this in a streamlined and budget-conscious way takes robust monitoring of QoE metrics. The data generated through monitoring empowers you to find the sweet spot between throughput investment, customer satisfaction, and data consumption.

At Panasonic our network performance tools, QoE platform, and analysis of throughput to the aircraft and to passengers will ensure the quality of experience is closely monitored and optimized. We combine our dashboard and industry experience to refine your product offering and help you deliver the best passenger experience—all while driving your margins.

To see how Panasonic can better your connectivity offerings, click here.

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