5 minutes with...

Christina Smith, Customer Service Executive at Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 29th, Jun

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

My name is Christina Smith and I am the Customer Service Executive at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. I am fiercely proud of my city region and of the airport team which is working hard to make Liverpool John Lennon Airport as the region’s airport of choice. We promote Liverpool John Lennon Airport as being Faster, Easier and Friendlier. I use the airport as a traveller frequently and I can say in an unbiased way that It’s a joy to use the airport as it is so quick and easy to get from A to B. Our colleagues at LJLA represent our region which is known for or friendly personality. Around 5 million passengers pass through Liverpool John Lennon annually.

I work with the airport teams and with our users who provide us with an incredible amount of feedback. We want to hear from existing and potential customers so we offer the traditional channels (face to face, letter, email, phone ), as well as social media and surveys (including a global airport customer service survey, known as the ACI ASQ programme). As a business, feedback from our customers is vital to developing our services to meet the needs of our existing and potential users. Feedback and engagement with users and disability groups in particular helps us to focus on how we can also assist travellers with a range of disabilities, both hidden and visible.

What does a typical working day look like?

My typical working day starts between 0600 and 0700 through choice. Years of working shifts in the travel industry becomes ingrained and I find early mornings are my most productive time. As a 24 hour business, our users will use our multi channels to contact us around the clock.  Much of my day is spent engaging with customers from my desktop or via phone apps, but it is important to be out and about to witness what is going on with customers and colleagues too.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I try but accept that I fail regularly. Also don’t set yourself a goal to reach a set destination in terms of career. I’ve changed track several times and each path brings new opportunities and experiences. Nothing is wasted.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

I am passionate about the improvements we are making and can potentially make to improve accessibility at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Countrywide 9% of travellers using UK airports who have a disability require a wheelchair.  91% of travellers who may need assistance to use airports have an audio, visual or hidden disability. Age related disabilities including dementia and cognitive impairment such as ASD are areas where information sharing is helping us to improve the airport experience for our users. If we as an airport and the City Region as a whole, can continue to improve the customer experience for all, then we have the potential to become even better at what we do.

 Where would we find you on your day off?

I’m not that good at switching  off from work so my compromise is to get away whenever I can. Yes, I’m afraid this is still work related as I will always fly from Liverpool and I will always be on the lookout for innovations on my travels which could be something we could use at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. If I can’ t get away, we are usually found walking our ‘Sausages’ (dachshunds ). These little guys are my reality check.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I would advise myself to look beyond what is immediately in front of me and be prepared to take a leap of faith. As a sporty and academic teenager, I chose the most obvious path that presented itself at the time. This was symptomatic of what we did at the time. Having completed A levels I went on to study a B.Ed majoring in PE. Two years in, reality hit when I realised that the world is a lot bigger than the 9 -5 of the school week. I took that leap of faith and left Liverpool to work in France for 2 years. My thirst for knowledge of places and cultures took flight. 

Who is your role model in business?

I don’t have a single role model as I think that life role models are important. My role model in life is my 86 year old mother. She is in the advanced stages of dementia but if I can achieve a fraction of what she has achieved then I will have made it.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

Like many teenagers of my generation, I couldn’t wait to leave Liverpool. In fact, I grew up at a time when Liverpool was definitely struggling. It was a source of embarrassment to admit to being from Liverpool as the image of the city region at the time nationally was as low as it can be. Leaving to work in France, followed by time spent working at London Gatwick Airport, I lost much of  my scouse accent. Later, working for many years at another airport, I seethed at the ‘scouse’ jokes and the way people reacted to the scouse accent.  Returning to work at Liverpool John Lennon Airport in the early noughties, I don’t know if it was maturity or a growing pride in our city region, but the accent is back and used with pride. The City Region has been on the up for some time and seeing visitors to the region from across Europe fly in here is great. I can now say with my hand on heart, that I am a proud advocate of our city region and of Liverpool John Lennon Airport. 

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