Tokyo Narita Airport improves customer service with iPads and language badges

By Raymond Kollau,

In order to improve the passenger experience at the airport, Tokyo Narita International Airport recently rolled out a number of customer service initiatives as part of its ‘i-Airport’ strategy.

Following earlier initiatives at Madrid Barajas and Singapore Changi airports, Tokyo Narita recently equipped roving help desk staff patrolling the airport’s Terminals 1 and 2 with iPads to provide passengers with real-time information on-the-spot. In addition to flight details, train and bus schedules, details of local hotels and lost and found information, the devices also let mobile agents provide guidance using digital maps of airport facilities and retail stores. Six iPads are currently in operation and Narita says it is using the tablets to complement the ‘traditional’ airport’s information counters.

NariTra translating app
In order to enable service agents to respond to Chinese and Korean-speaking travellers in their mother tongues, the customer service iPads also have the airport’s new NariTra language translation app installed. Launched by Tokyo Narita in early 2012 – and available for free download in the iTunes App store and Android Market – the NariTra app translates standard travel phrases as well as spoken phrases into English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. In addition to the language app, Tokyo Narita in June 2012 also launched a ‘mobile wayfinding’ app.

Language badges
A ‘low-tech’ way to overcome language barriers are “I Can Speak a Foreign Language” badges, which retail staff at Narita have been wearing since April 2012. The colourful badges allow travellers to tell at a glance if a clerk can speak a language other than Japanese or English.

There are 13 types of badges in total. Ten of them are for staff who can speak either Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Malay, while three badges have been custom-made for those who can speak multiple foreign languages: Chinese and Korean; Chinese, Korean and Russian; and interestingly, Spanish, French and Swedish.


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