The Future of Customer Service through Co-Creation in the Airline Industry

Let’s face it, customers are the new visionaries of today and developers have shifted the traditional boundaries between organizations and clients into solutions for meaningful customer experiences.

As technology has emerged at an expeditious pace, many airlines have issues to think outside the box in order to develop innovative ideas for new products and service. Overtime they have realized that it is better to team up with their customers to co-create new concepts in the industry.

An example of co-creation can be found in Delta Air Lines, who has been voted number 1 for the fifth year in a row in the U.S. Based Business Travel News. Delta scored highest in all ten categories, including “Quality of customer service”, “Overall price frequency” and “Network, partnerships and frequencies” (Skrbec, 2015). Delta Air Lines believes that its customers are a part of everything that they do and so they have applied the DART Principles such as Dialogue, Access, Risk and Transparency as well as the steps to guide Co-creation to enhance customer engagement.

According to Weber (2011), successful co-creation starts with formulating “a precise question” to the appropriate level of detail. In the example of Delta, their online community called Sky Panel was created with the goal to interact with their customers in an iterative environment to develop new products and services that catered to their customers needs. The next step is “proper phasing”, which is the second step that requires dialogue in the phase of the innovation process. In the example of Delta, participants are presented with a challenge that asks them to use their inner creativity to solve a problem by submitting ideas as an interactive fun way to come up ideas for products and services.

The third step is to “involve the right people” during the idea phase which is interesting for the organization because they can include a number of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. However according to (Peelen & Beltman, 2013), during prototyping and testing, the number of people involved should be limited and their background more classically oriented towards the requisite expert knowledge. In the example of Delta, customers are asked to rank their favorite ideas which allows the Sky Panel Team to help them identify the best concepts for new products and services.

The fourth step is “choosing the right format”, which is the way in which customers or users are involved in the innovation process. In the example of Delta, this was powered by crowdsourcing as they wanted to turn traditional research by getting collaborative insights from a large group of consumers rather than individual responses, so instead of little ideas they’ve created one big concept. The fifth step is “motivating properly”, which is best to acquire some insight into why people participate in the first place. In the example of Delta, the challenges were a fun way to engage their customers to get their creative juices flowing. Through different levels of participation, they can earn points or prizes with Delta Air Lines.

The sixth step is “deploying appropriate techniques” which are specific techniques to help people to develop creative ideas and arrive at solutions, using proper standards to evaluate them. In the example of Delta, customers had to design their ideal logged in experience which created an atmosphere that challenged their energy and input to create new ideas with well-constructed explanations for their outcomes. Lastly the seventh step is “providing feedback”, continuous feedback on how participants’ input is being processed and used is important. In the example of Delta, feedback was supplied by the internal Delta Team and the Sky Panel Team to inform their customers that through these challenges they’ve identified the key learning objectives for Delta to flush out their ideas and make them into viable solutions for the airline.

With that said, interacting with your customers in an iterative environment can stimulate great ideas created by your consumers and your internal team. This will allow your customers to help induce the process while supporting the airline industry to make better decisions.




Kl Communications, I. (2015, 10 16). Soaring Through Co-Creation. Retrieved from Greenbook:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Skrbec, P. (2015, 12 15). Business Travel News magazine names Delta No. 1 airline in annual survey. Retrieved from Delta Airlines:


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