The New, Customer-Centric Landscape
Modern customers expect businesses to treat them as individuals, with real-time access, personalised offers and 24/7 service. All this should be delivered via platforms as intuitive as those offered by Amazon and Uber, which have set the standard.
Stuart Birrell, Chief Data and Information Officer, easyJet shares emphatically “The world is shifting, and customers have very different expectations-generic doesn’t cut it anymore”.
“Every client wants a bespoke product,” says Robert Ogilvie, Data Director at The AA. To enable this, he argues that businesses need to mass-produce an operating model and environment that is lean and automated.
The world is shifting, and customers have very different expectations-generic doesn’t cut it anymore.
Stuart Birrell | Chief Data and Information Officer at easyJet
What does Customer-Centric Service Look Like?
With effective use of data, travel companies can recognise returning customers, and automatically tailor booking options to create a great experience. By using data to offer things the customer perceives as valuable, the chances are greater that the customer will make a booking and have a positive experience.
This might include offering flights and seats that match the customer’s preferences or highlighting add-on services. A logistics company might recognise which months are peak season for customers, and proactively offer services at preferential rates during this time, encouraging early transactions to help customers spread their workload.
Why Service as a Differentiator is Challenging
Travel and transport organisations may have large, complex IT infrastructures, especially when compared to the systems of travel tech companies like Uber or Airbnb.
These systems were not typically built with customer service in mind, and in many cases can’t talk to each other, with information stored in silos across multiple parts of the business. It’s hard to treat customers as individuals when you can’t access a complete, 360-degree view of the customer.
This complex infrastructure can lead to poor customer experiences in many cases, says Stephan Hong, Senior Vice-President of eCommerce at SIXT.
“Everyone who has travelled knows that there are breaks in the service you experience. You communicate with one department then get passed to another, who doesn’t know what the first team is doing. All those little breaks add up and it can feel very disjointed,” he says.
Everyone who has travelled knows that there are breaks in the service you experience. You communicate with one department then get passed to another, who doesn’t know what the first team is doing. All those little breaks add up and it can feel very disjointed.
Examples from Early Adopters
Some early adopters are reporting positive results from investment in customer-centric strategies.
Air France KLM Cityhopper is seeing benefits from better use of customer data in email marketing. For example, the airline can identify the most loyal and highest spending customers and offer them targeted special offers or packages at specific points of their journey, giving them more choice and control. “If you like water skiing or mountain climbing, then we can email you at specific points in the week to give you a special offer or package,” says Boet Kreiken, Managing Director at KLM Cityhopper.