Customer journey is the process of tracking and describing the experiences customers have as they encounter a service or set of services, taking into account not only what happens to them, but also their responses to these experiences (Dent, n.d). In the airline industry, there a few touchpoints that help to identify the customers. The phases are divided to choosing, booking, pre-flight, airport, in-flight and post flight (ascend, 2012).
As the major shared touchpoints from the customer journey needs to be consistent and well taken care, there are a couple of methods that enables effective data acquisition and turn into the customer knowledge. Furthermore, it has to be taken into consideration that collection of data about the customer as an user and person entails higher costs than to just form the image of the customer as a buyer (Peelen, 2013).
In choosing, booking and pre-flight phases, databases stregth lies in their ability to supply behavioural data about the buyer and, in terms of market research, their suitability is to provide data on the customer as user, person or organisation. While in stages of the airport, in-flight and post-flight information is obtained during personal contact with customers that serves to further improve the profile (Peelen, 2013).
Depending on the CRM strategy, it is not enough only to know about the customers but also to understand the context in which that customer operates. Therefore this can be done by limiting the number of personas. As stated in the article, the optimal number is between 4 and 7 personas. After selecting the amount of personas, airlines can easier focus on which touchpoints requires more or less attention. With the right usage of online channels and appropritate interactions in-flight, the end goal for airline companies is to invest in solutions that increase customer experience and thus grow brand loyalty.
It is relevant to give an insight to airline companies how apply CRM strategies in practice. Sabre airlines is known for its investments in IT that provides facilitating customer solutions. The company fits in the ‘hybrid’ business model. This model combines the cost-saving methodologies of a pure low-cost airline with the service, flexibility and route structure of a full-service carrier (Sabre Airline Solutions, n.d). In addition, the model focuses a lot on the technological aspect, which is necessary to bring flexibility in quick and effective responses.
(Sabre Airline Solutions, n.d)
To conclude the topic, it can be stated that nowadays strategies are complex and have to be well defined. The touchpoints in the mapping of the customer journey is the main reference point to see if the strategies fit well into that model. Moreover, various methods of tracking the customer have been described such as the inclusion of personas, the necessary approach during the phases of the major share touchpoints and practical examples that makes the experience more pleasant through all phases of the customer journey.
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
Dent, J. (n.d). Customer Journey Mapping: A Walk In Customers’ Shoes. Retrieved from: http://www.ascendforairlines.com/
Sabre Airline Solutions. (n.d). The Evolution Of The Airline Business Model. Retrieved from: http://www.sabreairlinesolutions.com/
Dent, J. (2012). Customers: The Heart Of An Airline. Retrieved from: http://www.ascendforairlines.com/