Virgin Atlantic: Using Data to Optimise Customer Experience

Customer Experience

Every­one enjoys a good hol­i­day, be it lying on a sun-dap­pled beach with a good book or indulging in some après ski after hit­ting the slopes—these are the expe­ri­ences we love. We relax, we unwind, we pam­per our­selves. The tricky bit is organ­is­ing these hol­i­days. From grap­pling with online book­ings and fight­ing to get the right seats, to tack­ling the com­plex­i­ties of check-ins and bag-drops, the process can be fraught with stress and con­fu­sion.

Thanks to the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion, the hard work of prepar­ing for long-haul flights will soon be a thing of the past. Lead­ing air car­ri­ers are adopt­ing trans­for­ma­tion­al, dig­i­tal-cen­tric approach­es to ensure the expe­ri­ence is smooth and pleas­ant for the cus­tomer before, dur­ing and after their flight. They’re bring­ing back the con­ve­nience and cus­tomer focus that was once the hall­mark of air trav­el.

Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence takes off at Vir­gin Atlantic

One com­pa­ny lead­ing the charge is Adobe cus­tomer Vir­gin Atlantic. Its leg­endary boss, Sir Richard Bran­son, joined our Sum­mit in Vegas to dis­cuss the airline’s lat­est inno­va­tion, and we’ll be wel­com­ing Claire Cronin, CMO of Vir­gin Atlantic, to speak at our upcom­ing EMEA Sum­mit in Lon­don. So, Adobe has some­thing of an inside track on the extent to which this carrier’s cus­tomer expe­ri­ence strat­e­gy is shak­ing up their indus­try.

Vir­gin Atlantic’s found­ing mis­sion was to cre­ate excep­tion­al in-flight expe­ri­ences, espe­cial­ly now that it’s extend­ing this phi­los­o­phy to the pre- and post-flight stages of every jour­ney by view­ing the expe­ri­ence from the eyes of its cus­tomers. It’s also look­ing at how to add val­ue through­out the whole jour­ney, not just from when the cus­tomer boards.

You can learn more about what Virgin’s doing here

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with con­text

We all know how anx­ious we can feel in the lead up to a long-haul flight. There’s a lot of infor­ma­tion to organ­ise and keep on top of. Vir­gin Atlantic now pro­vides cus­tomers with rich­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions lead­ing up to their flight, ensur­ing the whole expe­ri­ence is as fric­tion­less as pos­si­ble. Their approach cen­tres on the idea of per­son­al­i­sa­tion: the con­tent  com­mu­ni­ca­tion is rel­e­vant to each indi­vid­ual and his or her des­ti­na­tion. For exam­ple, instead of send­ing me a gener­ic email ask­ing me to choose a seat, it now sends a per­son­alised offer of first refusal on the seat I’d usu­al­ly sit in, based on past pref­er­ences. It’s proof that it real­ly cares about me and my choic­es.

How can Vir­gin Atlantic be so pre­cise? Data is the vital ele­ment and Vir­gin Atlantic employs data across all its oper­a­tions to enhance its ser­vice. It rou­tine­ly col­lects data on every­thing from oper­a­tional KPIs and on-time per­for­mance, to cus­tomer touch­points, which it aggre­gates in “voice of the cus­tomer” dash­boards. This gives Vir­gin Atlantic a base­line against which it can dri­ve con­tin­u­al improve­ment. The company’s oper­a­tional phi­los­o­phy has more in com­mon with a chal­lenger brand than an incum­bent. It’s con­stant­ly look­ing to fine-tune estab­lished prac­tis­es in the name of improv­ing things for cus­tomers.

Land­ing cus­tomer loy­al­ty

Vir­gin Atlantic under­stands that in order to suc­ceed in the air­line indus­try it must be an end-to-end expe­ri­ence busi­ness. It’s mov­ing away from sim­ply sell­ing a seat on an air­craft to sell­ing an air­line expe­ri­ence that’s designed from the customer’s needs. This process cre­ates a “vir­tu­ous data cir­cle”: the more flights a cus­tomer takes with Vir­gin Atlantic, the more data on hand to know  cus­tomers bet­ter and iter­a­tive­ly improve  expe­ri­ences.

Suc­cess will come to not only air­lines, but all busi­ness­es, that can reimag­ine their oper­a­tions around a customer’s indi­vid­ual needs. In this instance, it means we can look for­ward to hol­i­day expe­ri­ences that are low on stress and high on plea­sure. I, for one, can’t wait.

Customer Experience
Vijayanta Gupta

Posted on 09-04-2018

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