From an investment perspective, customer experience has been one of the top focus areas for airline companies, over the past few years. Airline companies are making significant investments in facilities, global products and services and technology. New technology initiatives include self-service kiosks, mobility, and more. Unfortunately, investments haven’t made it into core functions like building an enterprise-wide customer database that provides a comprehensive 360 degree view into a customer’s end-to-end interactions with an airline - the most critical driver of a customer experience.
Most airlines use the loyalty database as the primary source of customer information. The problem with this approach is that the loyalty database only includes about 40-55% of their customers. The two major issues with this approach are:
- Airlines are missing out on marketing to customers who aren’t part of their loyalty program and aren’t able to convert these customers into members of their frequent flier program. This is critical in today’s business model where ancillary revenue is an ever growing part of the overall revenue of an airline.
- Even for customers who are included in the loyalty database, the profile is often incomplete. Critical components of customer experience and satisfaction like baggage mishandling and flight delays aren’t included in the database.
So, there is never a truly integrated view of the customer’s experience in this approach. In some cases, one-off data extracts or point-to-point interfaces are created to capture a sliver of the information that exists across the airline. But even in these cases, information is dated and not utilized in real time.
Customer information exists in a multitude of systems as depicted below.
In addition, operational data like flight delays or baggage mishandling, which impacts customer experience, are stored in operational systems like Flight Operations. To create the perfect customer profile, operational data has to be stored in the customer system and tied in with each passenger’s flight details.
Data in silos causes a number of issues, including
- Lack of an integrated system, which would give a comprehensive view of the data
- Inaccurate, inconsistent, disparate and non-real time data
In today’s world Airline staff that is interacting with a customer (who has just had their bag mishandled or suffered a long delay) has no idea about these situations when interacting with the person. In some instances a customer who has had a bag mishandled and calls into a call center might even be tried to be cross-sold a credit card, leading to undesirable consequences.
An enterprise customer database needs to
- Include all customers - comprising of even those who are not members of the Loyalty Program
- One unique identity for each customer – a unique identifier is critical for creating a unique profile and also helps in creating integrated profiles for all customers
- Integrate data from multiple customers and operational systems to create a complete profile. It is critical to not only include marketing and customer related systems like Loyalty, CRM, and more, but to also include information from operational systems to understand the number of flights a customer has been delayed by and how long the delays were, how many times baggage has been mishandled, etc.
- Be enriched with external demographics and social data to help target customers better, for offers. External data for customers will help create a richer profile, which will yield better responses for marketing campaigns and cross-sell efforts.
- Provide real time access to data and events. Real time access to data is critical for driving a differentiated customer experience. Real time access has to be provided at all touch points.
- Provide a “score” that can be used by frontline employees to provide a differentiated customer experience. Operational employees don’t have the time to analyze data – they need indicators that can help them make the appropriate decision – for e.g. upgrade a customer or provide the customer with a drink voucher.
The benefits of having a customer database are many, including:
- Personalized and targeted offers to high revenue generating customers. A complete profile with data integrated from multiple systems will help design the most targeted and personalized offers
- Increase in adoption of ancillary products. Looking at demographic data, past interactions across all channels and a customer’s profile will help provide the most relevant offers to each customer. For e.g. a family on vacation might look for a club to relax in on a long layover, rather than an expensive upgrade to business class.
- Increase in conversion of flyers into frequent flyers. Targeted offers and incentives can drive customers to become members
- Real-time deals. Providing relevant and timely offers can help increase the uptake on cross sell efforts. For e.g. an offer at a partner hotel right at booking or an offer for an upgrade to the business cabin when a customer is in the process of checking in or offering a customer who has made an airline booking a real time offer towards a partner hotel with an offer of bonus miles
- Consistent and personalized customer experience across all touch points -on-board, online or at the airport
- Quick response to unpleasant or adverse customer experiences with gestures of goodwill
A comprehensive view of the customer that can be accessed in real time can provide for a differentiated customer experience and opportunities for driving ancillary revenues at every step of a customer’s journey. With many large airlines carrying over a 100 million passengers annually, even a small improvement in customer experience or a small increase in ancillary revenue from each passenger can translate into large gains.
As is shown in the diagram below, using a comprehensive customer profile provides opportunities for an airline to drive additional ancillary revenue or differentiated customer experience at every touch point.
Customer Interaction Touch points at an Airline
Airline companies need to look at solutions that can help them integrate data from disparate sources, and integrate data into a single customer profile that can be accessed in real time through all channels. HCL’s industry proven solution can help solve the above challenges by utilizing -
- Detailed business processes that focus on the business solution areas that drive the highest ROI
- A technical platform that is built on the latest technologies to ensure that data can be integrated together in real time and provided to different touch points, to drive a differentiated experience
A platform independent solution that is modular and is designed to be integrated into an airline company’s current IT environment. The platform is designed to integrate disparate and unstructured data by using market leading big data, tools and frameworks.
HCL has implemented this platform for large airline and transportation companies, globally.
You can click on Customer 360 to know more on the single view for customer.