Case Study: Digital Transformation of a Leading Airline
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is an ongoing process that enables a company to operate more effectively – especially compared to the enterprises that have not yet introduced digital change. One of the elements of transformation is digitisation, i.e., the use of information technology to increase the efficiency of all processes. However, digital transformation is only effective and cost efficient when it becomes a driver for the business strategy of the company. It also needs continuous optimisation and verification, as technology moves at a rapid pace. In a nutshell, it is a mindset shift towards a culture of growth and constant development
About the Client
This Digital Transformation case study relates to the work undertaken for a prominent British airline. The initial strategy for the company combined bold, unique communication with uncompromising care for the well-being of passengers throughout their flying experience. As the company grew and expanded, the language of communication became more formalised and corporate. However, the most important elements remained the same. Customers continued to rate the in-flight experience very positively. What difficulties did the airline face, and how did Digital Forms help them?
Challenges for Digital Forms During Digital Transformation
The airline wanted to extend the positive customer experience beyond the realm of flight. Their main goal was to develop programs and applications that make it easier for customers to book flights, access their travel plans, or check in for flights.
The organisation largely ignored the digital sales channel. The high margin of this form of conversion (15%) versus sales through agents (2-3%) resulted in increased interest in the development of the digital channels within the company.
Leadership has noticed a significant difference between competitors’ use of the digital sales channel compared to their organisation. Digital sales were up to 50% in other markets compared to 15% for a company we were supposed to help with transformation.
The airline in question had already invested in software and various technological solutions, but the technology wasn’t fully developed or taken advantage of. The systems were not integrated, and the data was scattered.
This made it impossible to introduce new functionalities that would ensure better conversion, faster and more effective lead acquisition, increase sales or improve customer experience. Very low customer ratings and opinions about the website and application confirmed the need to modify the current solutions as soon as possible.
An overdeveloped call center department, when compared to other companies in the industry, resulted from the employment of as many as 880 people in this area, generating huge costs with little value to the business.
The only solution for these challenges was a full digital transformation, thanks to which the company increased sales results. Due to the use of the digital channel they were able to lower customer service costs, increase the use of existing technological solutions, ensure better lead generation and improve customer experience before and after the flight.
Digital Transformation Process
The transformation carried out by Digital Forms followed specific stages:
Current state analysis
In the first stage, we carried out an in-depth analysis of the client and its competitors. Only a thorough assessment of the actual situation allows us to implement effective actions so that the proposed solutions bring real benefits to the company on all levels, especially the financial one.
The exact steps taken as part of the analysis:
- Preliminary workshops allowed us to get to know the specifics of the company and its challenges.
- Industry analysis in which we examined the overarching standards, verified the technologies used by the competition and checked how customers rate them.
- Digital touchpoints. We analyzed the common and unique factors of the enterprises from the competition regarding information technology.
- Sentiment analysis of existing applications and websites – and comparing them to the competition.
- Internal analysis of the company — we interviewed employees at all levels of the organisation.
- Digital Maturity Survey. By conducting a SWOT analysis, we verified the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s digital offerings as well as opportunities and threats in its development.
- Digital ecosystem mapping (sales paths).
- Analyses of the materials from the client — from the data, e-commerce, tech, Customer Experience, and sales departments.
The result of the analysis – summary and conclusions
The UNTAPPED potential of the COMPANY’S TECH INVESTMENTS
As a result of the first findings, we noted a huge dispersion of data collected in the company, a large number of unrelated technologies, as well as difficulties in inferring and processing data.
The Client was investing in tech and digital tools even before the digital transformation. However, despite significant amounts of money spent on purchasing and maintaining programs and applications, the level of digital maturity was low.
One of the main factors for that was the huge spread of data which prevented their optimal use. The available data did not support the processes of acquiring new sales leads or customer profiling. The data did not support the possibility of quick sales by matching products to recipients’ preferences, nor did it support the customer journey itself.
The need to optimise the customer journey
Positive customer experiences were recorded mainly during the flight itself. All other areas where customers had contact with the brand still needed to be refined and improved. Digital Forms conducted a thorough customer journey analysis. The client’s employees were not aware of how it was conducted and what conclusions could be drawn at its various stages to increase the efficiency of the entire process, trigger user involvement and achieve better results.
The clear diagram presented by us, which we prepared for airlines, was appreciated by the company’s team and used in their everyday work.
THE HOLISTIC ANALYSIS OF THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
The diagram of the client’s journey path allowed the client to read what deficiencies were in the ecosystem and which elements were its weak links.
The most important conclusions:
1. Systems diversity
The company had 4 CRM systems used in everyday work. Such dispersed data did not allow for proper customer profiling or the optimal sale of products.
2. Ineffective tools
The main sales platform was the website, which did not work on some devices.
3. Focus on foundations
Customers positively assessed all elements related to the flight: cabin crew, aircraft fleet, and entertainment.
4. Low quality of cooperation
Cooperation with related entities required improvement so that the customer’s attitude towards the brand was high, regardless of the chosen method of ordering services.
Low level of digital maturity
The result of the client’s self-assessment indicated a low level of digital maturity in the enterprise. The assessment was performed using a framework provided by Digital Forms.
The digital ecosystem in need of optimisation
During the internal audit, we detected six areas that affected the low efficiency of the digital ecosystem. Below are the main issues covered in the audit report prepared for the client:
- Over-reliance on direct channels: The website generates 16.75% of revenue in direct sales channels, compared to 38% in the industry.
- Technology-driven by-products, not a strategy: The company uses as many as four different CRM systems without a digital strategy or holistic digital vision for the company
- No single point of truth. All departments are investing in digital projects without any alignment. They function separately and cater for their own objectives.
- Dispersed data. Dispersal of PNR (passenger name record), booking, and passenger data.
- The untapped potential of digital solutions. Despite investments in world-class solutions, their potential is not used to an appropriate extent.
- Fragmented customer experience. Contradictory content and inconsistent information appear throughout all touchpoints between the customer and the brand.
Digital Transformation Initiatives
As a result of Digital Transformation, the client received a holistic digital strategy. In-depth analyses of the company, customer journey paths, the technologies used, and the entire digital ecosystem allowed us to create the best solution for the company. Our strategy started to provide a competitive advantage right after its implementation, and within the first few months, it brought a real increase in profits.
Make the customer journey simple and seamless by ensuring a positive customer experience across the digital ecosystem — unique to that particular airline.
To ensure the realisation of the vision, we have set digital goals:
100% transition to self-service
Customer and task-oriented focus of the company
Decisive change and entrepreneurial mindset
Prioritising mobile solutions
Providing a unique experience at every point of customer interaction with the brand
We have defined the strategic imperatives that define the brand:
Personalisation, flexibility, proactive attitude, hassle-free, be the brand
We took care of the foundations, the implementation of which was necessary to implement the vision. We’ve laid the groundwork for the organisational and technological processes. In the organisational part, we focused on a new digital leadership model. In the technological dimension, we emphasised the need for capitalisation and full use of the data structure. At the same time, in the area of processes, we defined a digital leader’s strategy, capabilities, and tools.
One of the elements handed over to the client during the digital transformation was a roadmap of initiatives, i.e., directions and specific projects that the company had to implement. A clear division into stages and their particular sequence allowed the company to achieve its goals.
The map of initiatives considers strategic goals, groups of projects, and problems that needed to be tackled before the projects were implemented.
To better explain the value of the initiative map, we describe one of the programs below –Lead Generation. The specific projects included in it will allow you to understand the increase in the effectiveness of acquiring leads that the company achieved due to the Digital Transformation process.
Program LEAD GENERATION is a group of projects that aims to generate leads, convert and sell. It included functionalities that contributed to the growth of interest in traveling to specific places, motivated customers to order tickets by adapting offers to their preferences, and implemented scarcity and time-relevance as vehicles to accelerate the purchase decision.
What functionalities have been implemented to help LEAD GENERATION?
- Personalised subpages. A customer who has browsed specific travel destinations in the past finds subpages presenting the allure of a given place. Thanks to this, his interest in a given location increases.
- Location-based user experience. The sites actively adapt to the user’s location by presenting prices in local currency or rearranging information in the local language (in selected cases).
- CRM – Personalised offers. The data collected in the CRM system was used to build offers intended for users with specific preferences or financial capabilities.
- CRM — Re-targeting. Thanks to the collected, though not previously used data, the company was able to prepare promotions for customers initially interested in the offer in the past.
- List of preferences and dedicated promotions. Customers can create a list of interests (for example, “I’m interested in business class tickets for less than X or a ticket to a specific country for less than Y”). Whenever the client’s criteria were met, they got a notification, which led to an increase in sales.
- Price reservation. The possibility of early booking of a ticket with the option of keeping a fixed price accelerated customers’ decisions to purchase tickets. Their motivation was additionally increased by the information about the price increase in the absence of payment 7 days before departure. The customers received a notification about the expiry of the offer to buy a ticket at a better price, which encouraged them to finalise the transaction.
Implementation of the above solutions was possible only when the client solved the problems identified in the map of initiatives as Enablers (included in the right column).
It was also necessary to integrate four CRM systems and aggregate all data collected through the Loyalty program. This allowed for the personalisation and segmentation of data and obtaining a complete picture of customers. Additionally using social media plugins, the company could create customer accounts and provide additional options for digital platforms
Data Strategy is leading the change
Investments in data science were necessary to introduce and scale these changes. Together with the client, we mapped and analysed their current data processes and strategies. After the analysis, we were able to define and build a new data strategy, which involved all business units in creating new consumer models. In addition, this strategy helped us move from 4 CRM systems to one with a unified consumer model. The chart below shows what the new data collection process will look like.
The effects of Digital Transformation carried out by Digital Forms for the client – a leader in the aviation industry
Online sales growth by seven percentage points: from 15 to 22% – six months after the implementation of the transformation
Improvement of the NPS (Net Promoter Score) from 15 to 42 as a result of introducing a new application and website.
Cost reduction is related to maintaining unnecessary systems or integrating those still used but to a fuller extent—reducing the costs of an extensive call center thanks to the development of digital sales channels.
Faster and more effective lead generation, leading the increase in conversions and sales.
Improvement of Customer Experience at all points of customer interaction with the brand.
Level up the digital maturity across the organisation.
Systems integration, makingaccurate data-driven decisions.
Is it worth carrying out Digital Transformation?
Enterprises that have deicide carry out Digital Transformation achieve business goals faster, while also strengthening their competitive position.
Thanks to unbiased analyses performed by specialists, companies obtain a digital strategy. It defines the company’s vision, digital goals, strategic imperatives, and foundations which will underpin the entire strategy.
One of the results of Digital Transformation is a map of initiatives which will drive the strategic goals. It breaks down our digital roadmap into groups of projects, leading to an increase in sales and greater conversion and improvement of the customer experience at all points of integration with the brand.
As a result of Digital Transformation the use of technology increases, which improves the efficiency of individual processes. This also builds a new, improved culture in the company and the team’s attitude. The new affinity for technology allows the company to introduce new solutions and constantly strengthen its potential.
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