Delta Air Lines has put Big Data on the payroll with an update to its crew app in a bid to improve the customer experience.
The airline hopes it will improve interactions between crew and select passengers on domestic flights.
The update gives flight attendants a prioritized list of customers, via their handheld SkyPro devices, which identifies those who might need special attention.
Delta soft launched the new priority passenger lists in April, as an update to its existing Guest Service Tool, which already included details like the customer's name, status and connecting gate.
The updated Guest Service Tool adds more granular information like the passenger's Medallion status, whether they've experienced flight interruptions, or whether they are a corporate traveler.
While the airline says it might add any customer to the priority list, based on "a passenger experience,” Delta is focusing its new data informed service model on Medallion members and corporate travelers in an effort to reinforce loyalty and secure premium fares.
Allison Ausband, senior vice president , in-flight service, explains:
"Continued feedback from our Medallion flyers shows that they highly value being recognized onboard and now, we are making it easier for flight attendants to personalize recognition with targeted information at their fingertips.”
Delta says its customer comments and survey data show that even "a small gesture of recognition" has a positive effect on customer relationships.
Crew will also note customer response to personalized contact, following each recognition, which will help Delta fine-tune its customer-care strategy.
Sandeep Dube, vice president, customer engagement and loyalty says:
“Leveraging ‘big data’ to improve our employees’ ability to recognize our customers in a personalized way is a significant step forward in our customer experience journey."
“We want to know what resonates with our customers and will tailor the program over time to deliver an even better experience.”
Delta piloted the concept on 75 flights, including key transcontinental routes like New York to Los Angeles and Atlanta to San Francisco.
During these trials flight attendants reported less than one percent of the airline's "recognition events" elicited a negative customer reaction.
The airline says that, if every flight crew interacted personally with 20 customers on each flight, Delta would be enhancing the travel experience of 50,000 of its customers each day.
A number of airlines have equipped crew with technology, in an effort to improve passenger recognition and retention.
British Airways deployed such a program for its passengers in 2011, and Malaysia Airlines did the same with a trial of SITA's CrewTablet Solution in 2013.
SriLankan Airlines has developed a comprehensive ground-to-air passenger satisfaction tracker which shares data in real-time and alerts staff to problem areas so that they can respond swiftly and appropriately.
Recently, Philippine Airlines (PAL) adopted SITAONAIR's CrewTab which gives a quick overview of all passengers onboard and facilitates personalized service.
But given the damage to brand reputation US airlines are tackling right now, Delta's timing for this announcement is optimal.