Delta leverages 'big data' to drive thoughtful customer service in sky

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Whether you’ve reached 1 million miles flying Delta or you unfortunately faced a delay recently, your experience matters and Delta is committed to recognizing it. For the first time, the data-driven airline is utilizing “big data” to support the customer service role of its frontline employees and further differentiate the Delta experience. 

The airline is giving flight attendants a prioritized list of customers to recognize on each domestic flight based on details like Medallion status, achieved milestones, recent flight interruptions and standing as a corporate traveler. This enables flight attendants to quickly identify the customer and personalize the engagement.

"Our flight attendants spend the most time with our customers, giving them the greatest opportunity to differentiate the travel experience," said Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President - In-Flight Service. "Continued feedback from our Medallion flyers shows that they highly value being recognized onboard and now, we are making it easier for flight attendants to personalize recognition with targeted information at their fingertips.”

It’s no small undertaking. If every flight crew recognized 20 customers on every flight, Delta would personally touch the travel experience of 50,000 customers each day.

In April, the airline soft launched this technology with the latest update to the Guest Service Tool, which already provided customer information like name, status and connecting gate to flight attendants via their handheld SkyPro devices.

Customer comments and survey data prove that a small gesture of recognition can make a big impression.

“At Delta, we are grateful to have the opportunity to serve millions of customers,” said Sandeep Dube, Vice President - Customer Engagement and Loyalty. “We wake up every single day with a passion to make things better for them and strive to create raving Delta fans. Leveraging ‘big data’ to improve our employees’ ability to recognize our customers in a personalized way is a significant step forward in our customer experience journey.”

And the data collection doesn’t stop after the interaction. Employees will note the customer response following each recognition, creating a holistic feedback loop.

“We want to know what resonates with our customers and will tailor the program over time to deliver an even better experience” said Dube.

Delta piloted the concept on 75 flights including routes like New York to Los Angeles and Atlanta to San Francisco, finding that flight attendants reported less than 1 percent of the "recognition events" resulted in a negative customer reaction. One pleased customer noted:

“I was most surprised on my return flight… when the flight attendant offered me a personal apology for the inconvenience… I must admit, I was pretty impressed with the customer database progress you guys have made… to deliver the right information to a flight attendant to offer a personal apology to an impacted customer 4 days after a service failure. Nice job.”

The targeted recognition feature is the newest enhancement in a long line of innovative solutions from the airline including developing a groundbreaking app that helps pilots avoid turbulence for a more comfortable flight, launching the industry’s most interactive airport wayfinding maps on the FlyDelta mobile app and strategically enhancing its boarding process.

“Our flight attendants now have the tools at hand to personally thank and recognize our valued corporate travelers,” explained Bob Somers, Senior Vice President – Global Sales. “All 80,000 Delta people set out every day to deliver an industry-leading customer experience. That experience coupled with thoughtful programs help to position Delta as a leader in the business travel space. And we won’t stop innovating.”

While any customer could be selected for personal recognition based on a previous experience on Delta, the airline continues to go the extra mile to serve Medallion members and corporate travelers by prioritizing them throughout their trip. This enhancement means more opportunities to thank them for being loyal to Delta.

 

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