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Reinventing customer experience in the airline industry

“We have another service recovery program called Delta Choices. Let’s say Delta had to cancel your flight, and you can’t get where you need to go. If you only fly on Delta once a year, perhaps a voucher is not a valuable means of service recovery. We now offer any number of gift certificates — from Amazon, Nike, Marriott, Home Depot  to name a few. That’s been well-received; and thus far, 90 percent of our customers accept it. It’s right on the money and more meaningful to our customer.” - Allison Ausband, Delta Air Lines’ Vice President -  Reservations Sales and Customer Care

Challenge: Help customers find the bright side

Delta Air Lines was named by Fortune magazine as the most admired airline worldwide in its World’s Most Admired Companies airline industry list.

How did they do it? Delta understands the airline customer experience. The company is investing billions in airport facilities and global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. For example, Delta has redefined airport gate waiting areas with chef-driven concepts. Delta has also created The Sky Deck, an outdoor terrace with a front row view of the runway, at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport and New York’s JFK International Airport.

Despite Delta’s accolades, travel issues sometimes happen for its customers. In keeping with its focus on customer experience, the leading airline wanted an innovative way to apologize to customers for their troubles.

Solution: Provide simple gift card apologies

For Delta customers who experience a non-weather related travel issue, the airline’s Customer Care associates can offer a goodwill gesture using Delta Choices powered by Connexions Loyalty’s MotivEngine®. MotivEngine® is a simple-to-use, behavior-based incentive delivery platform that gives Delta the ability to apologize for a negative experience. Customers who receive a Delta Choices offer go to MotivEngine® to redeem it and are given their choice of several popular gift cards.

Results: Enjoy engagement and loyalty

According to the Customer Experience Impact Report by RightNow, 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. On the bright side, 92 percent said they would be willing to go back to a company after a negative experience if they received an apology.

Delta is benefiting from the use of MotivEngine® as a means of remedying a negative experience. Gift cards delivered by this tool have received higher scores on surveys than other types of offers. These kind of compelling apology offers are an important step in the path toward engagement, satisfied customers and, overall, deeper loyalty.

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Tags: case studies, airline customer service, airline rewards

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