AutoPoint Blog

Flight now boarding.

Posted by Hilary Biggart Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This is an installment in a weekly series on uncommon tech innovations and implementations across all industries. Get an inside look at how other companies have changed their brands, their sales, and their retention through digital and mobile tech.

Just a few years ago, paper tickets and boarding passes were the norm. The TSA didn’t roll out e-passes until 2007, and even then they were only in a few airports. QR codes were rare and smartphones were barely born. But if you still step up to a kiosk to print out a boarding pass when you enter the airport today, you should know your phone will get you there faster. In fact, your phone will manage every aspect of your travel faster.

Travel tech hasn’t slowed down since e-passes were first introduced. Now, fliers can buy their tickets, check in for their flights, and download their boarding passes from just one device: the smartphone. More than that, customers benefit from tech-assisted travel at every point in the customer experience. One company leading the charge for change is Delta.

Change happens from within.

Delta has not always been known for its customer experience. When Delta merged with Northwest Airlines in 2010, there were growing pains and their customer satisfaction was suffering. To overhaul their reputation, Delta made several innovative changes to key touch points throughout the customer experience, both in the plane itself and in their app, through which customers first interact with the airline.

In-plane features.

No one enjoys economy seats, but few passengers want to put up the money to fly first class. In March 2015, Delta seized an opportunity to gain customers who want a little more comfort for a more polite price—they introduced Comfort+ seating. These seats are still in the economy sector, but they offer fliers a more affordable way to fly comfortably—and Delta throws in an array of extra perks.

Comfort+ passengers get priority boarding, free alcoholic drinks, extra legroom, and guaranteed overhead bin space. Not to mention these seats recline 50% more than standard ones. Way to make customers feel like they’re not far from first class.

Delta has also implemented a remarkable loyalty program. Customers work toward becoming Medallion members as they fly with Delta (ranks range from Silver to Diamond). Delta keeps customers well-updated on how close they are to earning another loyalty ranking—and the reminders work. Actor John Hodgeman spoke publicly on his podcast about how he took an unnecessary trip from the East Coast to L.A. just to maintain his Diamond Medallion status.

App-based features.

Delta’s app focuses on comprehensive usability. Customers can do almost everything from the app that they could do with the clerk at the airport. The app allows ticket purchase, tracks loyalty points, reminds you to check in, provides your boarding pass, and gives you easy access to customer service reps. Customers can also purchase in-flight extras, like Wi-Fi, before they board the plane.

What we can learn.

We talk a lot, particularly in this tech series, about how to engage your app through mobile platforms such as apps. But we can’t forget that the in-store experience is just as important. Delta is a prime example of a company that paired their in-app features with their in-plane environment to provide a seamless customer experience that carries the customer effortlessly through their journey.

As you implement dealer-branded mobile apps, identify cross-functionalities that create synergy between what your app gives your customers and what you give them when they’re in your sales or service department. 


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