Aviation connectivity has been advantageous for the airline industry, travelers and most importantly, the global economy. Travelers have access to various platforms where they can share their experiences, both good and bad, which is why the same is required from the airlines to succeed in the competitive market.
The increasing customer awareness has led to travelers being more active about complaints, suggestions and feedback; which is why it is equally important for airlines to be constantly alert and on the lookout for possible negativity and complaints regarding airline services that can drive more people to travel or not to travel with that airline.
As much as it is important that airlines establish a stronger link with their passengers via websites and other online means, providing value-added experience to customers poses a bigger challenge. A robust connection between an airline and customers may play a crucial role in bringing passengers on board, but making them to choose the same airline again and again calls for more efforts by an airline and revision of their business strategy. In short, what an airline offers passengers on the plane could be more significant in driving value.
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Enabling BYOD & More as Core Business Strategy
Understanding various technologies can help airlines drive customer value which can directly affect airline profits. For instance, customers are constantly connected through mobile phones to the internet, Wi-Fi, which means airlines need to do similar kind of arrangements within the plane to offer spontaneous and on the spot solutions to customers and meet their requirements.
Earlier mobile technology meant enabling faster and wireless communication between two entities. With the passage of time, connectivity has gained more importance, which doesn’t only mean being able to communicate, but being able to access bulk of information and entertainment, etc. at any time, regardless of the place and time zones.
An airline can provide this delightful service to travelers during flight by incorporating Wi-Fi facility and allowing the passengers to bring their own devices (BYOD) along. Is it too much to expect from an airline?
Although, the concept of BYOD initially meant for organizations and employees, but airlines can gain quite many benefits by adopting this idea.
When an airline allows passengers to bring their own laptops, tablets, etc. on flight and provide them steadfast internet connectivity, they are able to have better entertainment experience than those seat-back screens that may malfunction and might not be user-friendly.
A survey showed that more than 70% people felt enthusiastic about this idea for this gives them free entertainment content, reduced ticket price and lower baggage fees as well. BYOD allows the passengers to access anything on their devices instead of vacillating among limited entertainment options provided by an airline. At the same time, an airline is able save money on seat-back screens.
The ‘Don’t’ here is never ask your passengers to switch off their mobiles and Smartphones. That’s not applicable anymore.
Furthermore, using mobile technology, airlines can synchronize everything from flight booking, e-tickets, airport experience and offer convenience and comfort to the travelers before, during and after the flight. This includes staying alert and providing top class inflight services. In the modern age, with in-flight internet services, a passenger can comment on the inflight services and share it on public forums. Staying connected to look out for flyer comments, and providing real time solutions can help airlines drive customer value.
For example, a flyer notes poor behavior from a cabin crew, and immediately comments about the airline’s untrained staff. If an airline is connected, it can locate the query and have it solved in real time through radar communication to the crew on board. This is just an example how constant connectivity can lead to real-time solutions to problems and create a positive image of the airline services. A good flying experience can go a long way as passengers who feel heard and attended to, are highly likely to be loyal to the airline in the long run.
Integrating Processes to Enhance Customer Experience – A Case
Airlines, today, need to understand the psyche of customers. The customers now have unique demands and require spontaneous solutions, cost-effective travel and a great experience. Airlines need to focus on meeting customer demands in all circumstances and in every possible way.
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Considering this, Southwest Airlines has taken a step forward by becoming one of those carriers that provide gate-to-gate Wi-Fi to its passengers. By doing this, they have certainly set a benchmark since this facility is available on almost every aircraft in Southwest Airlines’ fleet. So, from the time the customers enter the plane to the time they exit, customers can enjoy this state-of-the-art connectivity, which consequently enhances their experience with the airline.
Tapping on one of the major requirements of customers, the airline allows them to bring their own portable digital and electronic devices and utilize industry-leading satellite Wi-Fi during their journey. They charge $8 per device but that is worth the entertainment the customers get in return throughout their trip. The customers on the airline can enjoy live TV, and free and uninterrupted movies.
Similar measures have been taken by some other popular airlines as well such as Emirates, Turkish Airline, and Air China to name a few. Some more Airlines are likely to join the club in 2015.
The limited approach to connectivity is when an airline thinks that it is for customers only although the airlines and the cabin crew can reap some great and equal advantages by exploiting in-flight connectivity.
An in-flight internet connectivity enables better communication management. The administrative and operational communications can take place more effectively with provision of Wi-Fi. On the other hand, both customers and crew are able to send and receive SMS messages and emails and can even make and receive phone calls in the air.
It is because of internet accessibility and connectivity that customers look for best last minute airfare deals and discounted airline tickets from different websites that offers huge discounts to frequent flyers. Also, it is because of robust technology of internet that passengers feel a connection with the world despite of being in the air or while they are journeying. However, this can only be achieved if airlines focus on improving customer services by following the latest trends and trying to incorporate the modern technologies.
Integrated operations, communication, connectivity and airlines’ responsiveness to expectations and requirements of customers can help them in offering great value to their customers, which will be eventually visible in the long run in the form of profits and customer satisfaction.