The main driving force behind Technology has always been making life easy for people. One particular industry, where I have not seen too much of a change – with respect to customer experience – has been the Aviation industry.
“The average airline spends about 2 percent of its revenue on technology, compared to about 30 percent each on fuel and staffing,” industry analyst Henry Harteveldt told The Economist Intelligence Unit in a recently published special report. “Even increasing investment in technology to around five percent of the revenue could have enormous benefits.”
According to the study by The Economist, the airline industry ranks in the bottom four percent in customer satisfaction. The trouble is, many airline leaders and decision makers are disconnected from their customers’ expectations. The study also discovered that 81 percent of airline executives believe that customer satisfaction with the air travel experience has somewhat or significantly increased. However, sixty-six percent of the customers believe that it has stayed the same or even decreased further.
However, the good news is that the gap has been accepted and the importance of enhancing the customer service in the air has been understood. Leading this revolution is Virgin America. Virgin America has always been one of the most technology advanced airlines in the world and they have chosen Salesforce to help take their customer experience to the next level.
Using Salesforce, Virgin Atlantic customer service agents are able to view their client’s social media activities and travel history, using which they send customised client specific messages and offers. Social media posts of the customer in which Virgin America is tagged will be responded to in real time through Chatter; the response will be seen by the Customer on the screen, in front of the seat. If a customer has posted a tweet on flight delay that is leading to missing a connecting flight, the screen in front would show possible alternatives.
Also the customer in flight can be informed in advance in case of potential problems like baggage not loaded on the flight. Virgin Atlantic also plans to use the IFE screen to suggest entertainment programs and food options based on customer’s historic data. Chatter would then act as a powerful tool connecting Virgin Atlantic employees across various job functions such as Operations, Guest Services, Ground Staff etc., there by resulting in a remarkable Customer Experience.
That’s not all.
Immense potential still exists that could be tapped. Imagine, what if the screen in front on your seat greets you by your name as soon as you take your seat? It recommends a set of movies, shows and music per your interest by getting data from your past flying preferences and social media interests; checks if anybody on your Facebook friend list is in the same flight and even request if they can provide a seat next to that person. The airlines company could also recommend flight options and holidays based on events/places you have liked or been following on social media. In case of delays, the IFE screen could inform you hours in advance and even provide alternatives to your connecting flight. What could be even more interesting is the passenger getting access to the map of his destination airport on his phone so he could quickly move to the desired location in the airport.
All this is not just imagination, but something that is fully achievable and will be implemented in the near future; it will then take Customer Service in air to a level much higher. After all, the world is connected with the power of Internet and our imagination, like the sky, can be limitless.