All companies in the customer service arena want to recognise their customers, and a new system developed by British Airways is set to take that recognition to a whole new level, even enabling its staff to put a face to the name before the customer sets foot in the airport.
The programme, known as 'Know Me', has been developed over several years and is now beginning to be rolled out. Its purpose is to collate a wealth of data from every experience the customer has with the airline and translate that into meaningful service for that individual.
The programme is able to send messages with information about specific customers to the iPads of customer service agents and senior cabin crew, or update check-in staff via the airline’s computer system. For example, they may be informed that a Silver Executive Club member is flying in business class for the first time thereby enabling the crew member to welcome that customer and explain the benefits of the cabin. Equally, if a regular traveller has experienced any issues on previous flights, such as a delay due to weather, the crew will be informed of that and will be able to go the extra mile, recognise the previous issue and thank the customer for their continued patronage.
The model also enables the crew to feed back useful information about the airline’s most loyal customers, enabling the airline to further personalise the service they receive on their next trip.
The personal recognition message is just a guide; it’s the customer service staff and cabin crew that bring it to life, enabling them to be more intuitive and proactive.
The most recent advancement of the system enables the British Airways team to search Google Images for a photo of specific customers so they can recognise them as soon as they enter the airport or aircraft and proactively approach them.
The airline is aiming to send 4,500 of these personal recognition messages a day by the end of 2012 with even greater scope for growth in the future.
As part of the programme a 'delivery lab' has also been set up to analyse the way the airline communicates with customers so that only the most relevant and interesting messages are sent to them.
Jo Boswell, head of customer analysis at British Airways, said: "Last year we re-committed to the ethos: 'To Fly. To Serve'. That's what 'Know Me' is all about - enabling us to recognise our customers in a way that is individual to them. Other airlines apply it in pockets to certain aspects of the travel experience, but we are looking at the whole journey from booking to collecting luggage at the carousel.
"We're essentially trying to recreate the feeling of recognition you get in a favourite restaurant when you’re welcomed there, but in our case it will be delivered by thousands of staff to millions of customers.
"And the early results have been extremely positive, our customers love being recognised and treated as an individual and our customer service staff and cabin crew feel empowered to deliver a really bespoke service.
"This is just the start though - the system has a myriad of possibilities for the future."
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