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Empower, Collaborate, Reimagine: three key ingredients for successful airlines Customer Experience Management (CEM)


Customer Experience Management (CEM) has emerged as a key priority for most airlines around the globe. Airlines have realized that customer perceptions have a profound effect on business metrics; brand equity; customer loyalty; revenue and cost savings and are trying to get one step ahead of each other to address the ever increasing need for service differentiation.

Many airlines have started initiatives to improve customer experience, but these initiatives are not comprehensive and leave out many key elements of a successful CEM program.

In today's world the emerging technologies like mobile, big data and social media  are playing a key role in influencing the entire travel value chain. The way airline customers access information, book, fly and provide feedback stands at a stark difference from what it used to be. It is now second nature for most of these 'New Age' customers to rely on information disseminated through these technologies. A world where customers are always connected and informed is both a challenge and an opportunity for the airline - a challenge because customers can instantly compare fares, limiting the airlines ability to influence purchase behavior. However, it becomes an opportunity when the airline is able to anticipate the customer's need and tailor its products and pricing accordingly. Airlines must reimagine its CEM initiatives to sustain the differentiation over a longer period leading to continuous growth in customer loyalty and advocacy.

We believe CEM needs to be looked at as a philosophy and journey. The key is to have a comprehensive approach towards providing an enhanced and positive experience at all touch points and beyond. Organizations that have successfully embarked on this journey understand that it is a ‘mindset’ change rather than an IT change. Airlines must look beyond frequent flyers, contextualize and personalize customer interactions, incentivize stakeholders and more importantly all CEM initiatives must have a C-level sponsorship with champions from all relevant portfolios.

For a successful and comprehensive CEM program, airlines can explore the following avenues:

  • Empower: Empower employees to enhance customer service with the right information at the right time through right tools.
  • Collaborate: With many stakeholders like travel agencies, airport, travel management companies etc. involved in fulfilling a customer’s travel, airlines must enhance collaboration with these stakeholders by incentivizing and working closely to provide consistent services to the customer.
  • Digital Reimagination: With the emergence of digital forces like mobile and social media, airlines must leverage these forces and explore concepts like bidding, crowdsourcing and so on.

It is time for airlines to embrace a paradigm shift from ‘passenger handling’ to ‘guest experience management’ and technology will be a key enabler for this transformation.

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