Bad Experiences with Customer Engagement Management within the Aviation Industry

One thing that many companies have in common is the fact that they want all aim to create and maintain a solid relationship with their (potential) customers. The process that leads to this, however, is not as easy as it seems, which relates to the term ‘’Customer Engagement Management’’ (CEM).

Nevin (1995) states that ‘’CEM is a term that refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyse customer interactions an data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving customer service relationships and assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth’’. The aviation industry, too, values a solid relationship with their customers as they would not be able to operate without customers.

One of the most extreme wrong examples of when airlines did not implement CEM appropriately, is the situation with United Airlines that occurred April 2017. When a doctor from Kentucky refused to give up his seat on an overbooked United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville, he was forcibly removed from the flight (Zdanowicz & Grinberg (2018). One of CEM’s main core concepts is that the value of customer knowledge, which includes the importance of database analysis of the customers, in order to get familiar with them and appropriately meet their needs and wants (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). If United Airlines would have analysed their customer database and seen that the selected passenger was a doctor, they could have prevented the whole situation in which the doctor tried to sue the airline. As the passenger’s profession is a doctor, it could have been possible that he had an important / urgent operation to get to. United Airlines could have prevented the ugly incident by picking someone else without any work-related obligations. Thus, checking the customer database is a crucial aspect of CEM.

Furthermore, another bad example of CEM within the aviation industry is American Airlines. The airline received a significant amount of complaints from customers due to struggles with flights delays and cancellations in the wake of pilot anger over their contract situation (Isidor, 2012). These complaints mentioned the fact that customers felt uninformed as well as lied to because the airline’s level of transparency was, in their opinion, low. As the article’s title mentions: the airline was risking losing many important customers. As Peelen & Beltman (2013) explain, many companies rely on their most important (A-)customers, as the quote ‘’get them  in, move them up, keep them in’’ states. Thus, when leaving customers in the dark regarding cancellation or delay reasonings, it can lead to departures of the airline’s most important clients.

To conclude, the strategic goals of CEM focus on the cruciality of developing customer knowledge (customers database) in order to get to know the customer and create/maintain a relationship with them. To add, the airline industry should realize the essence of the important (A-)customers, as they solely rely on these customers. Thus, the role of the CEM in the airline industry is to familiarize themselves with the customers in order to establish a solid relationship.





  • Isidor, C. (2012, October 08). American Airlines is losing important customers.

Retrieved September 12, 2018, from


  • Nevin, J. R. (1995, Fall) “Relationship Marketing and Distribution Channels:

Exploring Fundamental Issues.” Journal of the Academy Marketing Sciences,

  1. 327-334


  • Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow: Pearson.




2 thoughts on “Bad Experiences with Customer Engagement Management within the Aviation Industry

  1. cbergbrantjes

    it is certainly true that this can break or make your company. Excelling in Customer care and customer engagement is of utmost importance and if done well it will be highly benificial to the airline.


  2. Pingback: How to obtain a high quality customer database for airlines – Customer Engagement Management in Tourism

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