Tag Archives: airline

Did anyone notice it was my birthday?

So today I turn 43. Ouch. Well actually less ouch and more wahay! That’s how I feel today. With a wonderful family, some great friends and heading a business which focuses on helping brands make customer experience work for them, I’m doing what I enjoy, so I am looking forward to the next year.

I’ve had a stream of well wishing LinkedIn, voicemail, text and emails so far. Italy, London, Latvia, Edinburgh, Australia – as far and wide as I could imagine messages have reached me. And with the school run still a priority even on this momentous occasion, a table full of cards and presents waiting at home when I return this evening for a special birthday dinner. It’s a day I look forward to and moments of it I will remember forever.

In fact, most media has been active in congratulating me. I clicked on Google and was welcomed with this simple but effective personalised message:

google birthday


How wonderfully simple. An opportunity to tailor content to me (and the other 23rd Februarians) and they took it.

So I then thought, how many other brands know my age and are always trying to find an angle to create relevance and cut through? They are always trying to hit me with messages relating to stuff of theirs I’ve looked at but not bought. I wondered if they’d managed to connect their business model to my world and recognise it was my birthday in their CRM programmes?

Of course not. CRM doesn’t stand for ‘Christopher Really Matters’. So unless I’ve popped up on a ‘he should be buying this widget he browsed for 2 seconds over 10 days ago’ list, or similar, I’m not of value to them today. To prove my point here are two of the most prolific data rich e-marketers communications which hit my inbox yesterday, at about the same time my wife was wrapping presents and boys writing cards:

amazon birthday

expedia birthday





Missing the art of personalisation

In fact, Amazon are asking me to buy gift cards for someone else! Here was a great opportunity to personalise content to me in a light-hearted, but emotionally connecting way. They miss their moment. Or rather the CRM algorithm does.

However, when I’m browsing a site, the company can manage to collect every impression I make and serve that content back to me as an offer I’ve obviously missed. I’m not quite sure how this logic stacks up. That would be like assuming we never take a wrong turn when driving, or we never say anything we don’t mean, or we are never inquisitive.

But who is to blame for this shortfall? is it the CRM or brands fault, or is it the people who instruct the decisions on personalisation?

I attended an airline conference last year where one of the ‘industry expert’ facilitators barked out the virtues of passenger personalisation as being the future for airlines. Along with empathy, I could buy this point. But then his colleagues proceeded to share an array of ‘made up bundles’ of packages of airline benefits they have created, which cost the customer more but actually give them less. And with a wink of his eye finished with a, “Now that’s personalisation”. To which the audience applauded. Oh dear.

The true art of personalisation

If you want to get it right, leave the CRM system at the door, leave the marketer intent on tripping the customer up at home and start thinking about how to really connect with consumers when and how it really matters to them. Because, it really doesn’t matter if we all get the same thing. If it feels personal to me, then it is.

Thank you Google; you’ve gained a few advocacy points today. All the others who missed their chance, remember it’s my world and on the whole I choose (based on how they behave on days like today), which brands live in it.

dragonTo finish here’s a little personalisation that can go along way. It’s an example of how to deliver a standard message in a personal way. The customer has completed the ‘any other request’ box with a cheeky, ‘draw a dragon on the box’ comment. So that’s what the pizza firm did. No doubt increasing advocacy and sales from customer who will be more committed because of the personal attention.

Happy birthday to me.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant Lexden.

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5 exceptional airline customer experience examples

Last month we brought you 5 essential customer experience examples. Lexden would class these as those which ‘Maintain’ competitiveness. This latest batch are different. They create ‘Advantage’ and ‘Differentiation’ for the airline and are more progressed in terms of customer experience maturity according to Lexden’s assessment. For a short paper on how to assess your organisation’s CX maturity (and therefore ROI potential from CX) please forward your email. 

Customer experience is the perfect business model to demonstrate brand differentiation. Essentials tend to be easy to copy so will rarely define a brand, regardless of sector. Those focusing on these areas alone will always be caught unless they can constantly improve essentials. Where as those airlines who also strive to be on the forefront of customer experience innovations building advantage for passengers, the bottom line and the brand can become recognised for their experience.

They range from original and unique products, to new design features and service improvements. I hope that this list of those which stand out from the others will be helpful to you, no matter which industry you work in.

Signature dish

malaysia airlines satay dishSignature dish is something that is a well-established differential factor for restaurants and gastro-pubs, but not so much in the aviation industry. However, a signature dish in in-flight menu can really boost not only the customer experience, but also the airline brand. The best-known example of that is the chicken satay with peanut sauce served in Business Class on board Malaysia Airlines. It has become a must-try dish for all passengers travelling with this airline. Many passengers ask for it, and it is even considered as the best satay that one can find in Malaysia. The secret is that passengers on every single long-haul flight on board Malaysia Airlines can taste this dish. Thus, it does not only highlights the Malaysian culture and enhances airlines image, but also makes passengers crave it.

Magazines and Newspapers in Economy Class

ba magsNowadays, passengers are increasingly expecting up-to-date reading materials in the cabin. As in Business Class that has become an essential product, many airlines still neglect Economy Class passengers. British Airways is amongst the best airlines in the world in providing free reading materials to all passengers, regardless of their cabin of travel.

The airline is providing newspapers and magazines near the boarding gate, so that passengers can select and choose their favorite title even before boarding the aircraft. This has two advantages:

1. The airline does not have to provide copies for all passengers, as many will not be interested in this service.

2. More importantly, making newspapers and magazine available to passengers before boarding, allows the airline to organize the boarding process quicker, and in case of any flight delay, passengers are more understanding.

Lounge – Gate Entry

ethiad gate boardingThis is one of the most innovative customer experience features, as it allows Business Class passengers to board the plane straight from the business Class lounge. Etihad Airlines, the flag carrier of UAE, has invested a large sum of money intro this unique feature, at selected airports in the United States. Thanks to this design, Business and First Class passengers using the lounge, can board the plane without the need of queuing at the boarding gate. Passengers can bypass that, and board the plane at their leisure directly from the lounge. Only few airlines can now offer this service, as this requires very expensive design adjustments to allow an additional air-bridge to be connected with the lounge. However, in my opinion, more and more airlines will offer this feature in the future, as Business and First Class passengers expect seamless and stress-free travel experience.

Immigration on board

garuda immigration on boadGaruda, the flag carrier of Indonesia, has introduced a very innovative and unique service on board their long-haul flights to Jakarta. Thanks to this service, passengers on board a Garuda Indonesia flight can obtain a visa on arrival with the assistance from immigration officers available on board. This saves time for passengers, as they do not have to go through the time-consuming visa application at the airport. Moreover, it helps Indonesia to attract more tourists, hence generate more passengers for the airline. From my own experience, this service works very efficiently and has been well received by passengers.

I believe, that more airlines will introduce this service, especially in popular tourist destinations, such as Vietnam or Cambodia, where foreign tourists are still required a visa on arrival.

QR Kids set

Qatar airlinesFlying with kids on a long-haul flight can be bothersome not only for the parents, but also for all other passengers. Children, out of their comfort zone, tend to seek attention as a way of controlling the situation or if familiar with surrounds can get easily bored on a long flight. Qatar Airways with their extensive long-haul network, realised that creating a fun and engaging environment for their youngest passengers, will not only make the journey more pleasurable for other passengers, but also would encourage parents to travel with their children more often. Qatar Airways offers a wide range of amenities for kids. For instance, they have a dedicated IFE channel, with videos pre-selected for kids. Also, QR staff would distribute toy sets, which includes books, puzzles and colouring pages. Finally, during the meal service, children can receive a special lunch box, with meals designed especially for kids. Not revolutionary, but not universal either.

These passenger (or customer as every other sector refers to it’s clientele) experience examples not only improve the overall experience, but also strengthen the airline brand and image driving carrier preference beyond price.

As more sectors accept when it comes to attracting and retaining customers who have the appetite to be loyal, price has been a less effective lever to influence behaviour than experience, we can expect many more innovations will follow.

Posted by Julian Lukaszewicz, Airline Consultant and Associate of Lexden.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

5 essential airline customer experiences

One of the greatest things about customer experience programmes is the portability of strategy through to activation from one sector to the next.

Whether it’s financial services where products are not tangible or airlines where everything is tangible the same customers are constant in both. They can even experience both sectors at the same time. This means their expectations of what one sector can deliver versus another are blurred beyond recognition. This means it’s getting harder to keep up and a real challenge to differentiate on experience.

So it’s fundamental to know what contributes to a successful customer journey; the moments of truth and deliver them brilliantly. So to know what brilliant looks like, you might be wise looking beyond your own sector.  With that in mind these 5 examples from the airline sector may be of more  interest to the financial services community more than anyone else!

There are many different factors that contribute to a successful airline journey which delivers satisfied passengers. From years of experience I have identified there are a few essential customer experience products that play a much greater role for in reducing anxiety, removing friction and adding value to the journey, than perhaps the industry sometimes realises. Delivered well these can drive those satisfied customers.

Self-Check-In Machines

Beyond booking, the passenger’s journey experience starts the moment they step into the airport. Shortly after arriving, many frequent passengers require quick and easy check-in process. They do not want, nor have the time to spend a long time queuing in the traditional airline check-in counter.

This is time consuming and is contrary to many passengers’ needs. That is why, the Self-Check-in Machines (CUSS), are so vital to the overall customer experience.  They do not only help passengers save time, but also allow the completion of the check-in procedures at their own pace, which makes the entire process stress-free.

check in machineNowadays, passengers value being independent and they do not want staff assistance at the every step of their journey. Many airlines that have successfully incorporated the CUSS machines into their check-in area, have not only shortened the queues, but also significantly improved the overall customer experience.


Boarding System

It is often stressful, as many passengers queue up and want to board the plane all at once. Many passengers state that the boarding process is one of the most stressful and unpleasant parts of their journey. Therefore, an efficient and clear boarding system can not only improve the speed of the process but also improve the overall passenger experience.

Tboarding systemhere is no golden rule regarding boarding systems, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. Studies have shown, that well organized boarding system can speed up the boarding process significantly, resulting in a shorter turn-around times, which results in better utilization of the aircraft. Thus, by introducing efficient boarding system, airlines can not only eliminate passengers’ anxiety, resulting in improved journey experience, but also maximize profits.

Welcome on board

The welcome message from the captain is so important, because it does not only provide detailed flight information, but more importantly, it allows passengers to familiarise themselves with the captain and create a personal bond.  After first-time passengers hear the captain’s voice, they tend to be calmer and more relaxed. Good Cockpit communications can also save lives.

captains welcomDuring a famous incident over Indonesia in the 1980s, when a 747 lost its 4 engines due to volcanic ash, the captain said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.” His candid message prevented a panic on board the aircraft. Therefore, captain PA cannot be understated and should be always a vital part of every flight. As in any other industry, in aviation as well, communication with the customer is the key. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”

Amenity Kit

amenity packSimilarly to a hotel, where passengers expect to find the essential washroom amenities in their rooms, airplane passengers (beyond economy) are increasingly demanding comparable services. Most airlines now offer amenity kits in Business class, which became a standard premium product.

However, Economy class passengers’ needs are still being neglected. An eye mask, toothbrush, and socks can not only provide much needed comfort on a long-haul flight, but also significantly improve customer experience. Many airlines that have introduced amenity kits in Economy Class, have observed a steady rise in passengers on long-haul routes, resulting in better financial performance overall. Helping passengers spend the long journey in comfort by providing simple amenities results in improved experience.

IFE System

ife systemFinally the entertainment system (IFE). Nowadays, airlines that do not provide a wide selection of entertainment also struggle with overall customer experience. Interestingly, passengers increasingly demand IFE system to be available even on a medium-haul flight. This has become a crucial service expected by passengers across the cabin.

What is more, some research suggest that when an aircraft is fitted with modern entertainment system, staff have less work due to the fact that passengers are busy watching movies, instead of asking for assistance. Also, less drinks and snacks are served on such flights. As a result, it is a win-win situation, staff can direct their attention more efficiently, and passengers have more ways to spend their time on a long flight.

In conclusion, all of these examples either already are or soon will become the essential product parts of the airline customer experience. So I hope these have been of interest to you, whatever sector you are involved in.

Posted by guest blogger, Julian Lukaszewicz, former airline customer experience consultant

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or  T: +44 (0)1279 9022056548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com 

Unordinary Thinking No.1 – Austrian Airlines

At Lexden, we focus on developing solutions for clients’ customer strategy requirements.

To do this we apply our unordinary thinking approach, which allows us to reach new spaces and create compelling propositions and customer experiences.

Our clients like what we do, but given its importance to their world, we don’t often talk about it. So it’s great when we find examples from others which reflect what we do.

This blog is based on a couple of experiences I had from earlier this year…

…I am writing whilst on a short haul flight to London Heathrow from Vienna. Seats on short haul flights are typically uncomfortable. Leg room on short haul flights is typically restricted, unless you fly business class, which I’m not.

I am sitting in a seat which isn’t making my back ache or pushing my knees against the back of the seat in front, and I am travelling economy. So how has this been achieved?

Simple really, by the design folk at Austrian Airlines applying a little ‘unordinary’ thinking to the issue they want to solve.

  • The outcome they started with was more leg room
  • And then widening the criteria to ‘how to make customers more comfortable in their seats’ the areas of improvement increased.

And as well as the passenger improvements to the seating specification being delivered, it also would have proved more satisfying for the designers and the airline too.

The outcome of the enhancements are a 5cm slimmer more ergonomic seat and therefore 5cm more leg room.

If the brief had been a single minded focus on improving the leg room only, would the ergonomic seat have been the solution? Almost certainly not.

The focus would have been on reducing basket space or something similar. A redesigned chair would have been seen as out of scope. But by combining the issues, the adaption costs of the leg room improvement and the more comfortable seat can be offset against each other.

This is testament to the value of ensuring that customers are at the heart of any activity, ‘customers first, profits follow’ as I heard it put by a leader for a global giant in it’s field.

And Austrian Airlines, as it is in this case, has achieved this by widening the vista thinking from ‘leg room’ to ‘customer comfort’.

Interestingly it’s really about focussing attentions on the real issues and not getting side tracked by distractions. And being unwavering in that focus; the bigger picture approach.

Vista thinking enables this. It ensures value creation or value proposition development is strategically aligned. This then empowers all involved to focus with confidence at a tactical level.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on T: +44 (0) 207 036 2968. M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on T: +44 (0) 207 0362968 M: +44  (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.