Customer intelligence is about generating both smart and useful insight into customers. To gather customer intelligence, a company must draw on data from multiple sources and analyze with a purpose to drive better business decisions and obtain measurable results.
Travel marketers might think that a traveler’s decision is largely out of their control, as most travellers tend to select the option that is cheapest and most convenient. Yet, the recent researches show that by providing a better customer experience and a more personalized booking process, airlines and OTAs have all the chances to win the customer’s loyalty and stand out from the competition.
In-depth analysis of customer behavior enables the companies to learn about customers’ shopping habits, preferred offers, as well as to explore the incentives which will encourage customers to spend with their hard-earned cash. In today’s harsh market conditions, the airlines have got plenty of benefits from customer intelligence, such as improved customer experience, increased financial and reputational revenues.
It’s all about creating unique experiences
Improving customer experience and delivering value from the latest marketing technology doesn’t have to be about reaching for the most futuristic applications straight away. Certain airlines are striving for leadership on customer experience by making investments to make sure they have access to the right data and AI to make their marketing truly intelligent. It’s not a story from a futuristic book, for some innovative airlines are already stretching the limits of today’s customer experience. Hence, United Airlines have introduced a United Skill for Alexa. Delta is testing facial recognition-powered bag check-ins, KLM integrates social media connections at seat selection and SITA has sent their baggage check-in robot, Leo, on a round-the-world tour.
Due to the rise of connected devices and their immense popularity, there was a rapid redistribution of power away from businesses and back to consumers. Throughout the last years, the devices have completely transformed how people interact with airlines, whether booking a flight or checking-in a luggage. In other words, today, the experts talk about a restored balance to the interdependence between seller and buyer. The customers are empowered again, and this has a profound effect on how businesses interact with them.
Silos and customer intelligence 360 for better customer experience and personalization
In the 1990s, airlines deployed computer systems in an attempt to support sales and service processes. While these early CRM solutions were reasonably adept at capturing and storing customer data - such as spending patterns – they were in a silo. They didn’t integrate with other systems such as the booking engine to gain a 360º view of the customer. Any communication meant literally using outdated and historic information. However, as competition in the marketplace keeps on increasing, airlines are aware of the importance of delivering personalised products, offers and services to customers. While many airlines have collected mountains of old customer information, much of this data is stored in different silos throughout the organisation - and this is where traditional CRM falls short.
The increased fluidity of data has eliminated the physical barriers between sales, customer services and marketing. For this reason, the departments that used to collect data in isolation now need to work more closely together to keep customers happy. CRM systems often lack the agility required to keep track of the changing customer relationships. Airlines should therefore look at solutions that can intelligently pull together as many customer touch points and channels as possible, both online and offline. Only when this is possible will airlines be able to take the next step toward true customer intelligence.
Personalisation as the essence of customer intelligence
These days, technology allows airlines to restore the personal relationship that once existed between businesses and customers All the components of this relationship should be thoroughly aligned and nicely elaborated - it must be specific and contextual. This is what customer intelligence is all about. Even more, the way how the airline interacts with a traveler relies on real-time recognition of a circumstance followed by real-time contextual interaction (whether a person travels alone; checks in a luggage or not; spends time in the airport before a flight, etc.). The essence of customer intelligence is to bring together all that data the airline holds at one moment in time.
To illustrate, should a traveller be on business, the airline will gather the data accordingly. Thus, he/she would most likely appreciate information by text on whether the flight is delayed, or some weather and traffic updates in advance (in contrast, the information on renting a six-seater Jeep is unlikely to be appreciated).
For customer intelligence to be effective, it must incorporate a real-time and contextual interaction that delivers real value to the passenger. Since without context, it’s hardly possible to gain a truly holistic view of the customer, personalisation becomes generalisation, and if this occurs, the relationship faces risks.
As the research demonstrates, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. The starting point is to bring the silos of customer information together into a single customer view. The next step would be to personalize each and every touchpoint by sending relevant and contextual information to the customer. This will improve the customer experience, increase loyalty and ultimately result in increased sales.
The journey to truly act on customer intelligence 360 is by no means simple - there are definitely lessons to learn and hurdles to overcome. However, if done correctly, airlines can go one step further than simply replicating the bond between shopkeeper and customer. It goes without saying, true customer intelligence establishes long-lasting relationships that deliver tailored products and services based on requirements at a particular point in time and accurately envisage future needs of each customer.