Feb 17 2014, 1:15pm CST | by Forbes
A lot of the consulting work I do behind the scenes is to organizations within traditional industries that enjoy massive revenues and scale, but are starting to see that disruptive forces impact upon what they do – perfect examples are banking (see here and here) and telecommunications where new technologies threaten the very core of their business. Other businesses have a massive barrier to entry, but their challenges are more about differentiating what they do from the competition and offering more value to their customers.
Airlines are a perfect example of this and I’ve written before about what “Airline Customer Service 2.0” could look like. As I said at the time, I’ve got a personal interest in the space – I fly a quarter of a million miles or so every year and spend altogether to much time on airplanes and in airports. Making that experience less painful (or, perhaps, even fun) is pretty exciting. I’ve had a number of experiences where an integrated approach towards airline customer services would be hugely beneficial:
All of these examples are interesting when taken in light of the news that SITA, the airline industry infrastructure and software vendor, has developed some trial technology for Virgin Atlantic that allows its airline concierges to use Google Glasses to give travellers useful information (weather at destination, local events etc).
This is exciting from a “wow, Google Glass is cool, Virgin Atlantic has always been cooler and now it’s even more so” perspective, but leaves so much value on the table. The real benefit to customers would be accrued if the core operating systems that airlines use (passenger manifests, frequent flier applications, promotional campaigns etc) were exposed via API and therefore able to be integrated with interesting applications. In focusing on the deliver device (in this case Google Glass), SITA and Virgin forget that what is really important here is the data itself – without good exposure of the data, alongside embracing a developer community to create value from that data, any initiative is little more than a modern take on a one way publicity site.
Tellingly Virgin is only introducing this for first class passengers and sees it as a way of recreating the allure of air travel. Says Dave Bulman, director of IT for Virgin Atlantic:
While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers
Sheen is one thing, but good customer service isn’t about sheen, it’s simply about delivering the very real expectations of customers. As it stands Google Glass is meaningless bling, soon every airline will have it and it’ll be old hat. But truly leveraging the data airlines hold about customers, and offering up personalized, contextual and proactive information… now that’s truly revolutionary.
There’s your challenge Virgin Atlantic and SITA, over to you now.
Source: The Atlantic
Source: University Business
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