The future of disruption communications Part 2: How to delight your customers in 2019 and beyond

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The future of disruption communications Part 2: How to delight your customers in 2019 and beyond

Research shows that businesses that invest in quality customer experiences enjoy an 89% retention rate. Those that do not focus on giving their customers an experience to be positive about, however, can expect just 33% of them to return. As is the case in every industry, so many airlines say “we put our passengers first” – but what does this really mean?

Airlines that truly prioritise passenger satisfaction above all else will enjoy greater revenue growth and higher profits than rivals that simply say they’re putting the traveller first.

The key to unlocking a significant boost to your finances is understanding that every customer is different. In a world of incredibly high customer expectations, we can no longer get away with grouping our customers up and treating them all the same. Personalisation is so much more than putting your passenger's first name at the top of an email. Your customers will see straight through it, so working out exactly what each passenger wants and helping them achieve what they need at the appropriate time is exactly what personalisation is all about.

That's why here at 15below, we enable airlines like Qantas, SWISS and Thomas Cook to send pre-departure communications that are truly personalised. These airlines send emails that will promote a specific tour based on factors like the day of the week, the weather and the profile of the people on the PNR – because what’s the point in promoting a day trip up the Eiffel Tower with a small child when it’s raining? It’s not going to make your customer feel special and it’s certainly not going to generate you any revenue! That’s why our emails generate click through rates as high as 71% - a far cry from the average 2.63% experienced by the travel industry in 20181.

A major pain point for customers – and a significant opportunity for airlines to differentiate themselves – comes when disruption strikes.

What do passengers want during periods of disruption?

What’s the problem?

When disruption hits, your customers want to feel in control of their destiny. And while airlines handle schedule changes, cancellations, IROPS and flight status amends differently, none of this makes any difference to the passenger. They just want to know what it means for them and how it’s going to be fixed.  

The only way for airlines to achieve this is to provide their passengers with as much personalised information as possible, as soon as possible, as well as clearly explained choices that empower them to select the service recovery solution that suits them.

Unfortunately, the limitations of a manual process lead to several challenges:

  • Airport staff are under immense pressure to work through lengthy queues of increasingly frustrated people who have stood in line for some time.
  • Call centres are flooded with inbound calls as passengers urgently seek information and re-accommodation options.

A single solution is unlikely to be suitable for all affected passengers, leading to poor satisfaction levels and complaints.

What does the future hold?

Technology is already helping many of the world’s leading airlines automate their passenger communications, allowing them to reach thousands of affected travellers with timely, relevant and personalised information.

Self-serve functionality allows passengers affected by disruption to take control of their destiny by selecting from the options offered to them by their airline, including re-booking flights, taking an alternative route or requesting a refund.

At 15below, we expect this technology to become even more widely used in the years to come. We believe there is no need for a poor passenger experience and that automated, personalised communications should be the industry standard – not only adopted by airlines that truly put the passenger experience at the heart of everything they do. You only have to look to social networks to see the damage to airline brands as a result of poor passenger communications.

It’s easily fixed

Key trends to look out for include:

  • Further integration with social. Three billion people around the world are using social platforms and messaging services for an average of two hours and 22 minutes per day2. Airlines that communicate via their customers’ chosen channels will achieve the best results. Those that fail to do so will pay the price, with 82% of people sharing a bad experience in person or online3.
  • Chatbots are becoming more refined – greater levels of customer service will be available in the coming years and their prominence in the aviation industry will grow. Chatbots can also help airlines to significantly reduce costs, with a typical airline carrying five million passengers per year paying $1.5 million to run a call centre4.
  • A greater reliance on AI. From revenue management to passenger communications, workforce optimisation and maximising sales, AI will play an increasingly key role for airlines. Its value will be felt most of all in helping businesses to optimise operations and run more efficiently than ever.
  • Data will continue to be crucial – airlines that can effectively gather information about their customers will be in the best position to share personalised, targeted information, advice and promotions.

For more information or advice on how your business can take advantage of technology in order to stay in touch with customers and offer a truly personalised experience throughout their journey, please get in touch.


1 GetResponse 2018

2 Global Web Index 2018

3 Experience Matters 2018

4 Based on statistics from 15below ROI calculator

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