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Airline customer experience

Airlines Work on Digital Transformation and the Wow Factor

Passengers Still Want the Basics - Simple and Smooth Travel

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Some recent airline and airport announcements have focused on technologies that definitely provide some futuristic “Wow” moments. However, these technologies will have the most success in improving customer experience if airlines keep in mind that customers still want the basics done correctly and their journeys to be smooth and easy. No amount of flash will make up for poor service, inconvenient and time-consuming processes, and lack of communication.

According to Dash Research’s CX in the Travel & Hospitality Industry report, trends that are helping drive adoption of CX technologies in the segment are:

These needs can be met by using a variety of innovative and interesting technologies, but providers need to balance this with ensuring the basics are being addressed. Recent research from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that passengers really want simple and convenient ways to move through an airport. More than 10,000 people were surveyed from 222 countries and results show passengers want to see more options for baggage handling, increased use of digitalization and biometric identification, and for all booking options and services to be available in one single place.

Lufthansa has launched an entire unit, Digital Hangar, focused on digitally supported, value added CX solutions for the travel experience, which could include digital self-check in, baggage services, in-flight experiences, and food and beverage touchpoints. Personalization, profile & loyalty, as well as ecommerce experience will also be areas of interest for the group. Additionally, the unit is looking at using a “Customer Identifier” (Travel ID) across all their airlines and touchpoints. Customers are recognized at any point in their journey and can easily book, check-in and access all relevant digital services during the journey. This will eliminate the need for repetitive information entering with documents, travel partnership, and payment methods being stored in the customer profile, allowing passengers an easier travel journey.

Delta has launched PARALLEL REALITY at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which allows up to 100 customers to see personalized flight information for departing and connecting passengers on a single, shared digital screen. Delta worked with Misapplied Sciences to bring the project forward.

Impressive, but at the core of the experience is simple convenience. “If this new technology can make finding your gate and departure information quicker and easier, we’re not just showing customers a magic trick — we’re solving a real problem. Customers already rely on personalized navigation via their mobile devices, but this is enabling a public screen to act as a personal one – removing the clutter of information not relevant to you to empower a better journey,”  says Ranjan Goswami, Senior VP Customer Experience.

Source: Delta Air Lines

“All innovation at Delta is incredibly human-centric,” says Matt Muta, Vice President – Innovation. “We’re not chasing shiny objects; we’re looking for ways to make our customers’ lives easier. With PARALLEL REALITY, we saw an opportunity to personalize and simplify what can be a confusing experience – navigating the airport.”  Muta continues, “Imagine the peace of mind that such individualized messaging can provide to a traveler who is overwhelmed by the airport environment. That level of personalization, when coupled with the care of Delta employees on the ground, is a powerful combination.” 

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) piloted a digital avatar from Soul Machines (with speech and AI built using IBM’s Watson technology) this past summer and has extended the program. Digital Iris is a realistic, animated digital person that can hear, see, understand, and communicate using appropriate gestures and facial expressions in real time. It can provide up to the minute and contact-free location-based information on flight and gate details, restaurant Information, interactive maps, airport support, and service details.

“In an era when the air travel industry is up against serious logistical challenges, maximizing both efficiency and customer experience is more important than ever,” says Greg Cross, CEO of Soul Machines. “That’s why the work of DFW to embrace the concept of Digital People and introduce Digital Iris to its travelers is commendable. As the airport’s travelers are already discovering, the potential of visual AI is huge, and we are only just scratching the surface of what’s possible.”

Source: Soul Machine

These rollouts demonstrate innovative technologies that can impress passengers, but also hit the mark for focusing on what travelers really want, which is friction-free travel.

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