North American airlines are better than their European counterparts when it comes to responding to social media complaints, says a CNBC report. According to a Harvard Business Review study, positive experiences on social media make customers three times more likely to recommend a brand. More than 60 percent of Internet-connected individuals in the U.S. engage on social media platforms every day and many expect quick responses to their online feedback. In such a business environment, airlines need a far more powerful and harmonized effort to redefine guest relations.

Such an effort would require tackling the multiple challenges that airlines face. The data (in the form of customer feedback) is huge, complex and fragmented. It comes from disparate sources (internal and social media) and occurs at different stages of the customer interaction journey — from shopping to travel — which can last from a few hours to several months. A lot of it is also pure noise. Airlines also need a platform where customers can take surveys on the fly instead of providing feedback many weeks after a trip. There’s also the challenge of acquiring new customers while retaining existing ones.

Against this backdrop, can airlines identify the most relevant data, act on it in real time and derive business insights? Mind you, as airlines look to drive superior customer experience, they are also looking to accomplish the other key objectives of improved business reporting and industry benchmarking.

Adopting an Analytics-powered, Unified Solution

A unified approach can help airlines track, benchmark and optimize their customer relations across platforms and touchpoints. It can also help airlines build a seamless narrative around their guest relations. With advanced analytics at its core, such an approach can help airlines measure, analyze and interpret customer data from social media, and provide actionable insights on in-house data. A unified approach will enable airlines to leverage features such as sentiment analytics and competitive benchmarking.

The benefits include:

  • Real-time analysis and insights on both solicited (survey-based) and unsolicited (social) feedback

  • Unified view of the customer across multiple touchpoints

  • Benchmarking against the industry and competitors

  • Flexibility and scalability to include additional data sources

A unified approach through the right platform can provide insights at the enterprise level and at each category level. The right customers can be targeted at the right time. Such an approach will also integrate text and machine learning, and provide access to past insights as well. A unified solution can rein in the costs associated with market research and analytics for airlines looking at making the best use of social media platforms.

Airlines have been using analytics even before the term analytics was coined, and the rapid advancement in analytical techniques has only helped ease matters further. But for an industry constantly challenged by complex operations, low profitability and high customer churn, efficient innovation is the name of the game. Airlines and travel companies need to adopt an omni-channel strategy to collect, track and engage with their customers, and use advanced analytics to interpret the feedback and identify the right interventions.

Through an analytics-driven, unified approach to guest relations, airlines can drive powerful synergies that can improve customer engagement and achieve better business outcomes.

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