In the last few weeks, the news and the internet have been filled with stories about the lack of customer service in service industries, especially the airline industry. Many companies in the service industry often forget that they’re in the customer business and take their patrons for granted. No incentives are offered, no customer engagements are made and no “surprise and delights” are given to reward customers for their loyalty. What so many companies don’t realize is that if positive interactions with their customers aren’t made, it is too easy for customers to leave for competitors or tweet negative feedback for the world to see. This is especially relevant in industries, like domestic airlines, where there are many competitors that offer similar services. If customers are dissatisfied with a certain airline, many times there are multiple alternative airlines that offer similar routes. Because of the prevalence of competitors and easy access to the internet to search for other options, service oriented businesses need to be extremely conscientious about their customer lifecycle management and ensure that customers are having positive interactions with them through all steps of the lifecycle. If companies do not, they put themselves at risk for losing customers.
So, what is customer lifecycle management? The customer lifecycle consists of the acquisition, conversion, retention and loyalty of customers. This lifecycle needs to be closely monitored by marketers – however, this can be challenging because to effectively do this, a marketer needs to ensure that all relevant data is being collected about each potential and current customer. This data then needs to be interpreted and immediate personalized engagement needs to be made. This is particularly challenging because with more customers shopping online or using mobile apps, huge amounts of data are being generated every minute. Prescriptive solutions need to be in place to not only collect this information, but also to interpret that data, to identify what information is relevant and then automatically use this information to engage with the customer.
Real-time prescriptive solutions take data from multiple sources and then in a “non-scripted” way, interact with a customer as they’re in a store or experiencing a service. So for example, let’s say a platinum status airline customer is on a flight that gets delayed. This passenger has been on 3 other flights in the past 2 months that have gotten delayed. The solution would look at the historical and current information and proactively schedule the customer on the next flight. Depending on what the customer has set in his preferences, the customer would also be rewarded with a $100 voucher, an upgrade for himself and his traveling companions or additional mileage added to his frequent flyer account. A similar customer who may have had no other delayed flights in the last 2 months would be presented with offers that are less in value like a $25 voucher. A customer with no status and 2 previous negative interactions may only receive a free drink voucher.
Prescriptive analytics can also look at the overall patterns that a customer has. For example, a customer prefers window seats and always orders tomato juice on morning flights. However, when returning home this same customer will order an alcoholic drink and is likely to upgrade to business class. If a solution is implemented, flight staff can be alerted to this and “surprise” this guest on a night flight with a free drink. An alert can be pushed to this customer before his flight to purchase an upgrade at a discounted price, thus ensuring that he gets the business class seat that he wants. These proactive engagements will not only make the customer happy but also allow the airline to upsell the customer and ensure that a positive interaction has occurred.
These examples were just for current customers, however, airlines and other service industries can use real-time prescriptive solutions throughout each step of the customer life cycle. These positive interactions will be critical to the success of airlines and other companies in the service industries in the foreseeable future. For more information on how customers can be engaged through each step of the customer life cycle or our real-time prescriptive analytics solutions, please e-mail me at email@example.com