London, November 3rd 2016 – Relay42, the leading European data management provider (DMP) and EyeForTravel today announced there is a significant opportunity for airlines to use technology to drive customer loyalty and improve customer service. Nearly 40% of respondents put a premium on brand differentiators, such as service quality and in-flight experience. Set against the backdrop of 42.5% saying technology made airline service “slightly better” and 34.7% saying it made it “significantly better” there is a clear opportunity for technology to play a positive role in adding value, but airlines need to think carefully about how they employ it. However, only one fifth of respondents felt technology had influenced their direct communications with carriers for the better and 46% said they would very much prefer an airline that enabled consumers to fully manage communications channels.
The survey validates the widely accepted belief that consumers, particularly leisure travellers, still rate convenience (26%) and price (25%) as the two most important factors when choosing a flight. However, innovative airlines have an opportunity to drive competitive advantage if they use technology to respond to some very clear guidance from this survey’s respondents. When asked what kind of information customers would like to receive, the survey found:
“Our survey findings present a positive way for carriers to overcome the perception of an industry driven by price,” said Tomas Salfischberger, CEO and co-founder, Relay42. “Carriers are already showing how digital technologies can be adopted to enhance the service they offer to customers. The winners will be those that listen carefully to what customers want and are brave enough to cede more control to customers.”
It is critical for carriers to consider how they can deploy technology to offer practical information, rather than trying to repeatedly serve offers. This will show a much deeper understanding of their customers’ needs and help to drive value for consumers, which will result in improved customer engagement. The survey respondents were quite specific in where they saw technology adding the most value:
“Every carrier is facing the same competitive pressures, which makes it even more important to find new ways to differentiate your brand,” added Florent Coudyser, Head of Travel, Relay42. “The good news is that digital technologies can be quickly implemented. However, carriers need to be methodical and strategic in their approach. If individual applications are not integrated it will create a disjointed picture of customers, which will lead to frustration not stronger customer engagement.”
The survey, conducted between 17th and 24th August 2016 among 1,795 consumers also ranked the leading airlines for their customer service. Unsurprisingly the long-haul airlines continue to rank best and the low cost airlines struggling with the perception of lower value services. Among the UK airlines where the number of respondents was statistical significant enough Virgin was ranked the best airline, with British Airways holding off easyJet and Ryanair. This is despite its August announcement that it would be reducing free meals on long-haul flights for economy passengers. Within the survey report there were also some positive examples of the way forward. For example, KLM was ranked fifth overall and it has been undertaking a significant programme of digitising services. KLM became the first to offers its customers around the world booking and check-in confirmation, boarding pass and flight status updates via Facebook Messenger.