The Importance of Customer Experiences in the Airline Industry

In the aviation industry, good customer experiences are of great significance. Customers are the most important factor in this industry, because airlines depend on their customers – without customers, airlines would not exist! Therefore, companies have to understand the people’s needs and wants in order to deliver unique experiences. This can be done by making the customer feel special with a more personalized experience or sending a follow up e-mail, for example. Emirates, for instance, provides the so called ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’, which makes it possible for the airline crew to review previous trips customers have taken with the carrier before. Thus, they know about the customer’s preferences and issues that might have occurred during their previous travels (R. Kollau, 2012). Based on that, improvements can be made and personalized service can be provided.

Focusing on Ryanair, some people have complained about them and their customer service in the past. However, real life examples show that they do provide personalized customer service; when a woman claimed for a refund because her mother-in-law passed away, she received a reply within hours with kind words and the acceptance of refunding her trip or when a passenger was sick during the flight and directly received the attention and help of the cabin crew (Ryanair, 2015). This shows that the company puts effort in providing good customer service and shows understanding for customer’s situations. Nevertheless, focusing on the company’s personal contact hours, they offer service of 12 to 13 hours on workdays and personal live chats during the day (Ryanair, 2015), whereas KLM for example, provides a 24/7 customer service (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 2015).

Unfortunately, many times passengers have complaints about their journey, often already during the booking process. For instance, hidden costs occur at the last moment or problems with payment methods arise. People get frustrated and search for a different flight. In this case, companies can use the path analysis, which allows them to analyze the path customers take through the internet. Google, Expedia, advertisement on social media or directly via the website are some examples of different paths. Thus, airlines can recognize where problems occur and based on that, change certain tools to create a good and easy path through all different channels, as this leads to the purchase of products.

Moreover, airlines maintain points of interactions, for example at the booking process, the check-in, the boarding and the inflight experience itself. Companies should use the richer data to aim to exceed their expectations (Clayton & Hilz, 2015). For instance, some passengers might have seating preferences, while others are more concerned about food and beverages during the flight, because certain health issues might exist.

Once a relationship with a person exists, companies aim to seek loyal, repeated customers. To find out how they perform and how willing they are to continue the relationship, the retention analysis is a beneficial tool to apply. It is used to keep up with customers and to follow their path to prevent them from dropping off the customer lifetime pyramid. This kind of marketing activity is considered to be the most responsive one, as by knowing what the customers’ needs are increases loyalty. Flight upgrades and club memberships might be a good service to accommodate customers, such as KLM’s Flying Blue. With this offer, customers earn miles and enjoy exclusive benefits every time they book a flight with KLM, Air France or other partners (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 2015). Emirates on the other hand, provides special offers to business and first class customers, for example a complimentary Chauffer-drive service to the airport and to the final destination. Also families receive special services such as special entertainment for children during the inflight and the provision of complimentary strollers at Dubai airport (Emirates, 2015).

Nevertheless, some customers are likely to discontinue using the product or service an airline offers. To identify those customers and to find solutions to bring them back, the Churn analysis is used (StatSoft, 2015). In this case, the companies have to examine the causes and based on that make improvements.

To conclude, good and satisfying service always has to be provided throughout all channels in the airline industry, especially because customers are most valuable for the companies. There is always a risk to lose customers, but by following their paths and by using rich data to meet the customer’s expectations, this risk can be lowered, and therefore, it will be beneficial for both parties, the customers and the company’s financial aims.

Bibliography

Clayton, E., Hilz, A. (2015), 2015 Aviation Trends, Retrieved from http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/perspectives/2015-aviation-trends

Emirates (2015), The Emirates Experience, Retrieved from http://www.emirates.com/english/flying/

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (2015), Contact about flight bookings, Retrieved from https://www.klm.com/travel/nl_en/customer_support/customer_support/contact/about/flight_bookings.htm

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (2015), Earn Miles and enjoy exclusive benefits, Retrieved from https://www.klm.com/travel/de_en/flying_blue/about-flyingblue/all_about_flying_blue/index.htm

Kollau, R. (2012), Emirates provides 1,000 pursers with HP tablets as part of ‘knowledge-driven’ in-flight service drive, Retrieved from http://www.airlinetrends.com/2012/12/01/emirates-knowledge-based-in-flight-service-hp-elitepad/

Ryanair (2015), Customer Feedback, Retrieved from https://www.ryanair.com/en/customer-feedback/

Ryanair (2015), Frequently Asked Questions, Retrieved from https://www.ryanair.com/ie/questions/where-are-you-calling-from/

StatSoft (2015), Churn Analysis, Retrieved from http://www.statsoft.com/Solutions/Financial/Churn-Analysis

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3 thoughts on “The Importance of Customer Experiences in the Airline Industry”

  1. I agree with Niklas that this is a nice blog. There is one sentence that is a bit cryptical if you are not familiar with the different types of value exchanged: “It is important to know how your customer is feeling and that you deliver the same value to him as he delivers to the company.” Besides adding the practical examples Niklas mentions, this might be something you want to give some attention to.

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  2. Dear Niklas,
    Thank you very much for your comment. I agree that it would be very interesting to see how certain airlines perform and to compare different airlines. I will look further into it to find more information and real life examples that I can use for my blog.

    Daniela

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  3. Dear Daniela,

    your post is very pleasant to read. You structured your article very well and the use of academic sources appears to be balanced.

    A valuable addition could be to focus on one or two airlines during your article and check, whether these companies perform well or whether there is room for improvement on the specific parts you tackle. I especially appreciated the part on KLM’s Flying Blue and believe that you could add a lot of valuable insights by for instance taking Emirates and Ryanair as two completely different players in the market and check, how they try to create customer experiences in their completely different business model.

    This would perhaps gain new insights and your well used academic sources and statements would be underlined by practical experience.

    Niklas

    Like

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