The Wall Street Journal has an interesting segment this morning describing how airlines are slowly moving towards better customer relationship management.
The technology could finally mean that when you yell “do you know who I am”, they actually will. They’ll also know how often you fly, what you spend with them, where you live, your past delays and cancellations and a host of other information.
For years, airlines relied solely on their frequent flier programs to collect information from frequent passengers, and there was very little interaction between the airline reservation systems and their loyalty systems.
The passenger manifest would usually mention your program status with them, and occasionally someone at the airline would manually add some notes (VIP, CIP or “celeb”). Of course, none of those tidbits would actually let the flight crew know just how important (or unimportant) you are, nor would it give them any other information that could help them make you feel more valued to the airline.
Some airlines have already made enhancements to their CRM systems; Alaska Airlines implemented a system that lets the flight attendants know where their top customers are sitting, and their drink preference. Imagine getting on board a plane, and being handed your favorite drink – that is a nice personal touch.
The new technology will take everything the airline knows about you, and store it in a central system. It will then share that information with ticket agents, flight attendants and anyone else at the airline that could use it to make your experience more pleasant. At least, that is the theory. At the end of the day, airlines will probably use their investments to figure out more ways to make some money off you.