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.