Avoiding turbulence in customer experience

Last week we held a webinar exploring the future of customer experience for airlines. Unfortunately time constraints meant we were not able to answer all of the questions so I thought I’d answer those that were submitted here.

  1. With plenty of digital channels available to interact with customers/ passengers, which one has the most impact to reach the customer and maximize ROI for the airline?

In my opinion, there’s not one universal channel which maximizes ROI for airlines - each channel serves a different purpose. Obviously, PPC is expensive but it can be great for specific campaigns or specific destinations that you need to drive traffic towards for a short period of time - however it's not necessarily a long term solution. Too often we see high bounce rates from landing pages that fail to provide an actionable step into the funnel or any relevant information for the visitor. Of course, if you can increase the volume of traffic via SEO or direct then this will be more cost effective for your business.

Email is a hugely important channel both for acquisition and retention, in terms of both notifying customers of deals and providing destination inspirations, to being part of an abandonment recovery programme to re-engage bookers that may have left your site.

A great way to increase more direct traffic is to ensure your customers have a great experience on your site. If a customer visits your website directly and are a frequent / loyal customer, we need to recognize this by tailored messaging that welcomes them back to the site. Or, if they’ve visited the site using specific search terms such as ‘cheap flights to Mauritius’, ensure that when they land on the site you display the best flights to Mauritius departing within the next three months – this helps shift inventory and drives a great customer experience.

  1. In terms of website personalization, can you give us a few examples of how you would deliver this?

Firstly you need to start with the data. Identify who your cohorts are and what you’d like them to experience. That could be: couples, groups, families; or first-class versus economy;  or short-haul versus long haul. Once you’ve decided what segments fit to your business you can conduct analysis to see which routes or which ancillaries are most applicable. Taking ancillaries for example, you can start to show and hide things to ensure only the most relevant content is displayed. For example, we would stop showing anything that is specific to families (i.e family insurance bundles) to business travellers. Alternatively you could promote specific routes to families that you know to be popular among this cohort by outlining how many families have bought a flight on this route in a set time period.

  1. What are some of the ways we can increase customer loyalty?

Luckily working at Qubit I have the ability to speak to colleagues working across different verticals and retail are one industry who do loyalty very well, especially the more premium brands. Mr Porter are one of our clients and they have a VIP programme but they call it an EIP programme, for extremely important customers, because they have a philosophy of treating every customer as if they are a VIP. They feel that if they do that, that allows them to retain those customers for longer periods of time and also allows their business to grow organically through word of mouth because what they’re offering their customer base is truly exceptional. Retailers tend to offer things like priority access to sales or free samples and it shows that to retain customers you don’t have to have offer massive discounts, it can be the smaller things along the way that allow you to build loyalty and retain customers.

We could definitely learn something from retail in this sense - although some airlines have very exclusive upper tiers, it is important to consider making the lower tiers have a greater feeling of exclusivity. There are also simpler steps rather than rejigging your whole frequent flyer programme. For example, by simply acknowledging your loyal customers. If you have a customer who has booked five times in the past six months, you could offer them free champagne for their next flight as gesture of gratitude for their loyalty. This may sound simple, but it’s incredibly difficult to operationalize. This is one way to increase loyalty because it’s the individual touch and a memorable experience which ensures customers buy into your brand.

Let me know if this answers your questions and if you have any more, please reach out to me on gabriella@qubit.com.

If you’d like to find out more about how Qubit can help enhance your digital customer experience take a look at our guide.