Two sequential innovations occurred in the evolution of the ATI’s (Air Transport Industry) customer service process. Although they were not planned or implemented to compliment each other, combined they have had a very positive impact in the industry: decreasing costs and increasing frequency of customer use (revenue).
The first innovation was the Frequent Flyer Program (FFP), introduced to create customer brand loyalty or to retain customers. FFP’s have been successful, if only measured by continued customer choice of airline brand, but at a significant cost to the airline’s balance sheet – increased liability. The second innovation was the deployment of self-service check-in kiosks, which dramatically reduced the costs associated with the ticketing/check-in process.
Unfortunately, the true benefit of these two innovations has never been fulfilled. C. K. Prahalad proposed that customer value is created at a point of exchange, e.g. at a ‘touchpoint’, in any transaction between a customer and an airline or airport. Value is customer determined and customer controlled. Therefore, a close integration of FFP and self-service ‘touchpoints’ will enhance a customer’s experience and thereby determine the value of the product or service offered. This is the leading edge of customer relationship management – identification and fulfillment of the “Preferred Customer’s” expectations.
In order to identify and fulfill the expectations of the Preferred Customer, this paper focuses on the next generation customer self-service systems that:
1. Create positive customer experience, leading to retention (value),
2. Exceed customer expectations using CRM “best practices” of permission and dialogue marketing (retention),
3. Utilize existing technology and customer ‘touchpoints’ (access devices), and
4. Exploit existing or new communications (delivery medium).
Implementing next generation customer self-service is well within the reach of the ATI’s current technology infrastructure. What is needed is the initiative to be truly creative and innovative – creating strategic advantage within the ATI.
For some interesting blogs of the topic, see: AirGate Solutions