Ai Editorial: Focusing on 3 areas for getting closer to a personalized interaction

First Published on 25th May, 2018

Ai Editorial: Uniting all the sources of data, tailored dashboards for relevant teams and integrating the customer data platform with all the operational systems that airlines use it key to delivering 1:1 personalisation, write Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


How are airlines counting on data as a core asset? Is it improving a passenger’s journey on the day of the travel or during any phase?

It seems there is hardly action today based on data coming in from various touchpoints and sources. Even in the case of travellers who are flying with an airline, their queries in the middle of a journey are being addressed in a disjointed manner. For an example, a traveller’s flight gets delayed and promptly uses Twitter to convey to the airline that there is a connecting flight. Whether the airline is entitled to help or not, at least the airline can acknowledge the hassle that one has to go through at the time of boarding the connecting flight. It seems the staff is oblivious to the conversation that took place via Twitter. So even if the same passenger manages to catch the connecting flight by rushing to the gate, the staff managing the departure control system is simply clueless about the plight of this traveller.  

There are certain questions that airlines need to answer: 

·          Can there be a sum of all interactions?

·          Can there be one relevant dashboard, including one for the offline staff serving the passengers, to take apt decisions?

·          How to respond to a query or a service request in real-time or in a seamless manner?

Here we assess 3 areas that need to be sorted:

1.     Uniting data: A common challenge tends to be what to expect from a customer data platform.  “Airlines first need to assess what kind of assets they have. So there tends be CRM, loyalty system etc. and along with this is their PSS, various touchpoints such as digital assets, city ticket offices, at the airport etc. So ensure the solution helps in uniting data from all the sources,” explained a source. “There is no need to do away with your CRM, but consider working out a customer experience management (CEM) platform. So CRM is where an organization could already be identifying and profiling passengers, how we bring it together and match it with data from the PSS, from loyalty systems and also make the most of data from social channels to craft a single view of the passenger. And then to operationalize after segmentation and working out of personas, the same (to operationalize) has to be done across all the touchpoints. So this CEM works in conjunction with all existing systems/ data sources for everyone to gain access to the single view of the customer. This CEM can be a foundation for customer-centricity, but airlines are on different paths. And this has to be studied closely.”

In case of JetBlue, a passenger doesn’t need to share their story or request again in case they are interacting via a company-owned channel or account. Because all interactions (say featuring a JetBlue account on Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram etc. or an interaction at the airport or with a call centre executive) are captured and aggregated into a single conversational view of a customer. (This doesn’t encompass conversations from 3rd party sites). This solution sits on the top of a CRM and enables customer service. It can aggregate data on its own too – relating a profile’s social media handle, email id, phone number etc. So it’s an adaptable platform.

Airlines should start with data they have – whether they are loyal customers or not – from their own channels. Then over a period of time they can see how to work with 3rd party channels.

2.     Tailored dashboards for different departments: The robust data management platform needs to support different use case functions. “Extract data as per the requirement and publish through analytics using business intelligence tools to work out a relevant dashboard say for the marketing department, or the finance team etc. So slice and dice for the relevant team,” mentioned the same source.

3.     Passenger-facing touchpoints: Other than collecting data, organisations also need to gear up for decision making algorithms to handle increased complexity. Eventually, one would end up working out a key hub for business decisions to be made at scale. This should also encompass a dashboard for the airline staff to complement the interactions in the offline mode.  A major differentiator would be how passenger are served at offline points. That’s a major facet of how the actual consumption takes place. So, for instance, a traveller had abandoned a ground transportation option at the time of booking a flight on, but didn’t convert. Can the airline take this forward on the day of travel, say via their staff at the airport? How can the screen (at the check-in counter or the boarding gate) share relevant, contextual information about the passenger?

On how would this work, a specialist mentioned that there won’t be two different monitors or main access points – one for usual departure control at the boarding gate and the other one featuring information about passengers. “This shouldn’t be the case. This is where the integration into the systems becomes very important. So if the airline staff is using the DCS and there is also CEM that has information about the profile of passengers, then the technology partner needs to streamline the interface for the staff by making extremely simple to use since there isn’t much time for one to interact with passengers. “It could be only few seconds (interaction with passengers), if we consider the paucity of time,” said the executive. “Integration is key, the staff at the boarding gate can open up a separate screen within their main access point. Alerts would hold the key. You can expect the staff to go through all the information about the passenger to deliver a personalized service. The robustness of the tool comes to the fore via a central hub for business decisions to be made at scale.”


Hear from experts and assess the journey of airlines at the upcoming Mega Event Asia-Pacific (Ancillary, Loyalty and Co-Brand Conferences) to be held in Bangkok, Thailand (28-30 August, 2018).

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