As part of this year’s Hamburg Aviation Conference #ThinkFuture18, 15below joined XXL Solutions, Blacklane and Branchspace for a panel discussion. Together, we looked at innovative ideas and strategies to revolutionise the customer experience (CX) and increase travel retail revenue.
Here are our top 3 takeaways from the panel discussion at #Thinkfuture18:
1) A fragmented customer experience will result in lost trust (and potentially lost customers).
David Turton, Head of Product Design & Development at Branchspace, highlighted the impact of fragmented experiences on customer trust:
“What we currently have is a series of fragmented experiences with individual companies fighting for the customer’s attention. What you get as a result is service gaps and service duplication, customer confusion and mistrust.”
A fragmented experience is any point in the travel journey where a customer has questions that haven’t yet been answered –
“Why is my flight delayed?”
“Who do I speak to about this?”
“Where do I go?”
It signals a gap in customer service that has the potential to strengthen - or damage - the relationship you’re building with that customer on a personal level.
Trust used to be built with a physical touchpoint in the form of a service desk. This is now supplemented with a level of digital interaction direct with the customer - any gaps within or between these two functions will result in lost customer trust.
Before you can drive additional retail revenue from your customers, you need to get the basics right and fill those service gaps with clear communication, and proactive information sharing – both physically and digitally.
2) Take a holistic approach to communicating. You’ll reach more people.
Regardless of how a customer has booked – direct or via an agent – the level of service they expect to receive remains the same. The standard today is a fluent, personal experience from the point of booking, to returning to their sofa – a service that echoes the likes of Uber for real-time information or Airbnb for personalised interactions.
One of the biggest blockers to providing this level of service is missing (or withheld) customer contact details - a key point highlighted during the Hamburg Aviation Conference and one of the most common issues we see preventing effective communication.
Timon Bock, Director Distribution Partnerships at Blacklane, identified the impact this has on a customer level but also across the whole value chain.
“Airlines have a duty of care. If they can’t contact me to provide me with the correct information, it’s impossible to improve the customer experience I receive. As a result, the whole value chain suffers, not just the airline.”
Resolutions like IATA 830d aim to create new industry standards for sharing passenger contact information in the long-term. Whilst the short-term impact of these resolutions has been questioned, there are solutions that can improve your reach with customers right now.
Don’t limit yourself to a single communication channel. Maximise your reach with a multi-channel, holistic communication strategy. It sounds simple, and it is. More channels = more opportunities to communicate with your customers. Here’s the impact it had on JetBlue’s notification strategy for communicating schedule change:
JetBlue Notifications Strategy – Schedule Change
3) Data x Context = Happy Customers + More Revenue.
Ursula Silling, Founder & CEO of XXL Solutions, highlighted how the industry is leaning towards commoditisation of price and product offering. As a result, some airlines are using ancillaries as a means of propping up revenue but risk compromising their brand promise and value proposition.
Yet, what most businesses don’t realize is that customer experience is primarily a financial endeavour. Boston Consulting Group has shown that brands who create personalized experiences by integrating digital technologies and data for customers are seeing revenue increase by 6% to 10%.
This is further supported by The Economist who found that companies prioritising customer experience have better revenue growth and are more profitable than companies who don’t.
Ancillaries will always be a vital part of an airline’s revenue-generating activity. But the highest conversion rates will only be achieved when you use the data available to create personalised and contextual offers as part of a wider CX strategy.
If you take away one thing, it should be this:
During the panel, we reiterated the point that:
"People choose a flight based on price but judge the value of it based on the service they receive." Ira Gershkoff (T2RL)
In our opinion, brilliant communication is the first step in revolutionising any customer experience. Using data, technology and a little intuition, it’s possible to create a better experience for every single customer, with a profitable outcome for you.
To understand how communication can impact your customer experience and generate additional revenues, please get in touch.