May 16, 2014


In-Flight Management

According to the 2014 Air Travel ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) study the Airline Industry continues to lag most other industries in customer satisfaction.  And at Airlines, customer satisfaction with in-flight services is the 2nd lowest category among all categories measured.

“Travelers are happy with airlines before they get on the plane,” ACSI managing director David VanAmburg said in the release. “Even areas that might be considered stereotypical customer pain points, like late departures and arrivals and baggage handling, score high these days.”

In one of my recent blogs The Inevitable Enterprise Transparency: How Will the Airlines Industry Adapt to it? I talked about how connectivity, data and smart phones have ushered in the need for transparency in the Airline industry and how the need for transparency doesn’t stop at customers but also is a key requirement for interaction with partners and employees.  Here I will talk about how HCL is enabling enhanced customer experience and transparency in how Airlines interact with and manage their passengers on board an airplane.

Many large airlines carry over 100M+ passengers annually and employ over 20K+ Flight Attendants.  These numbers show that there are immense opportunities for Airlines to improve upon on-board customer satisfaction and drive employee empowerment and satisfaction.

The value of human interactions on board an airplane can’t be minimized but mobile technology can be the enabler by providing the right tools and information for Flight Attendants to execute their responsibilities and drive an enhanced and transparent customer experience. Mobile enabling the on-board interaction process can provide transparency across all touch points pre-flight, on-board and the post-flight process.

As can be seen from the figure above there are opportunities for differentiation for both customers and employees in all phases of a flight.  A few examples of how mobility can be used to drive this is shown below -

Customer Recognition of Top Tier customers – Providing instant access to customer profile, issues a customer might have had during recent flights (flight delays, baggage mishandling) and their preferences can help drive a differentiated and transparent experience to the most loyal customers. 

Knowing that a Top Tier customer is connection from a flight that had a baggage delay or a customer whose bag was lost on his last trip and then going above and beyond to service that customer can drive an increased sense of loyalty with customers and empowerment with employees.

Improving Passenger Boarding & Management – Seat maps that show what seats are booked, which passengers have boarded and where high level customers area seated can help improve the boarding process and passenger management

Efficiently handle Special Service Requests – Special Meals, Unaccompanied minors, Wheelchair requests mapped to the customers and all relevant information to those requests like seat assignments and connecting flight information

Drive increased on-board F&B, Cross/Up-Sell and Duty Free sales – Mobile devices can increase the ability to sell an increased array of ancillary services (On-board upgrades, Express Train tickets etc), Duty Free and F&B.  A graphic rich mobile app can really help drive sales of high end Duty Free items.

Automate routine tasks like customer feedback, on-board issues etc. – Customer feedback regarding service, meals and other customer service tasks can be stored on the devices for downloading to appropriate marketing and communication departments.  In addition feedback on aircraft related services like a broken reading light, nonfunctioning IFE systems and seat belts can all be quickly put into the mobile devices that syncs in real time (either via onboard Wi-Fi or upon landing) to ensure maintenance personnel are ready to resolve these issues even before a plane lands.

Employee Empowerment - Provide information related to the employee regarding their bidding, schedules, overnight hotel accommodation, crew sign-in, training etc.  In addition providing an electronic version of the Flight Attendant manual whereby updates can be pushed automatically to the device increases the convenience and minimizes the risk of regulatory body fines.

HCL’s solution is platform independent and can be designed on the leading mobile platforms like iOS, Android and Microsoft.  It is network aware to minimize data roaming costs – it ensures that critical data is updated in real time while less critical information is updated only when a device is not roaming or on a Wi-Fi connection.  Service oriented architecture (SOA) is a key enabler of integration with key back end systems like CRM, Loyalty, Reservations and Flight. Detailed business processes speed up the implementation of this solution and ensure a highly customized solution. Technologies like Mobility, Big Data and Complex Event Processing are key components of this solution.

All relevant data about the flight, the crew, the customers, flight connections, baggage etc. are all provided and updated in real time to help manage the flight.  With on-board Wi-Fi this information can be updated while the flight is in progress and any changes like flight rescheduling or updates like gate changes can be communicated to customers.

HCL’s On-Board customer experience platform is an end-to-end solution to help drive an enhanced customer experience while empowering and driving high levels of employee satisfaction. Our experts can help Airlines in this journey by:

  • Identifying the right mobile devices for the Airline’s environment and its people
  • Design a highly functional and aesthetic UI which enables Flight Attendants to get to the most relevant information in the least amount of clicks
  • Integrating the device to back end customer, reservation, baggage and flight systems
  • Creating and comparing current KPIs to Airline Industry metrics
  • Helping develop a business case for implementing this program

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