In a crowded market where airlines of all types converge, price competition is tougher than ever, and passengers are more likely to ‘shop around’ for the best deals, it is becoming more and more difficult to secure loyal customers. Furthermore, for many frequent flyers the airline reward programmes that include upgrades and free flights are appreciated loyalty builders. But a frequent flyer programme is no longer enough to ensure brand loyalty. Flying is an emotional experience that is time-consuming, from the moment a traveler plans and books a flight to reaching their final destination. Their journey is also multi-channel and includes many touchpoints, some of which are out of the airlines control. Yet all of these touchpoints influence the customers’ decision to fly, or not to fly with the airline again. Consequently, the customer experience (CX) could be a negative experience long before the actual flight departs.
However, airlines can become more successful and profitable when they embed CX throughout their organisation and provide CX guidelines for their third party providers. In addition they can ensure loyalty and drive word of mouth, by understanding in detail each touchpoint in the traveler’s journey and their satisfaction every step of the way, for them to be able to act on the information immediately.
In a recent benchmark study, MaritzCX received over 140 survey respondents from aviation companies throughout Europe that shared their insight about their programmes and how they are working hard to deliver exceptional CX, so helping them retain more customers and realise a higher financial gain.
As a result it became clear that many airlines have updated and evolved the way they do business to further engage their customers through each step of their journey including online booking, airport baggage handling, security, terminal services, Alliance lounges, in-flight services, and post-flight follow-up. They operationalise CX to capture traveler data and to leverage the data coming from many different areas of their business: booking systems, loyalty programmes and feedback channels (interviews, surveys, social sites, etc).
Still it is not enough to just gather the information. As CX success results from the ability to share and act effectively on customer intelligence in real-time, it is of essence to bring together the data and information previously uncaptured, unseen or unused, hiding in separate silos throughout different organisations.
The details collected need to be visualised with a software that provides dashboards and reports that reflect their customers’ feedback and experiences, giving detailed visual information to airline managers and staff. Successful airlines share this information and customer feedback with every frontline staff member in real-time by using mobile devices and tablets. Doing so ensures the airline team can immediately act on the feedback and pro-actively manage the experience of the individual customer while continuously improving the processes that influence customer satisfaction. At the same time a negative experience can immediately prompt a case management action plan that alerts stewards on a flight of a traveler’s negative experience so they can begin to resolve the issue immediately.
It is imperative that airlines not only listen to their travelers at every touchpoint, but they improve their CX programmes effectiveness to:
- Capture, measure and monitor the traveler’s journey
- Manage and drive third-party service levels
- Retain flyer loyalty by using closed loop feedback
- Successfully case manage and resolve disenchanted customer issues
- Increase frontline effectiveness
- Increase Net Promoter Scores (NPS)
- Drive greater revenues
- Personalise services to differentiate the airline’s value
- Realise higher customer satisfaction
- Use CX data when testing new routes and services
- Improve processes and employee engagement
- Measure third party company performance