Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Virgin Atlantic Reinvents Customer Experience

At the arrival of Virgins Atlantic new 787-9 in Atlanta's airport. Richard Branson had plenty to  quip upon. He realizes airlines must stay relevant without spending the "farm' for relevancy and make customers happy in droves. The two for one ploy is customer efficiency, since its all about the customer which drives ticket sales. It all stems from the customer experience. Today's Richard Branson quote: 

"Our goal was to find ways to become a more efficient company without taking things away from the customer,” he said. “Our next phase, having stabilized the company financially, is to invest in the customer.”

Branson must put Virgin Atlantic into a position where it maximizes the customer experience while making their experience more efficient and having a direct impact on making Virgin Atlantic (VA) more efficient. VA is on to something with this passenger model. It is installing new efficient equipment on its most important routes. The 787-9 is the most efficient aircraft flying, giving the customer the highest travel experience in its ride and space considerations. As stated incessantly before, all the customer creature comforts are in place with larger windows, better air and entertainment systems for the price of one ticket. The customer has a subliminally better travel experience with the 787-9. It goes on with its mood lighting and other amenities as it pulls up to the gate. Branson is halfway there when he purchased the 787. 

VA must now take the passenger further in this dual conquest of airline efficiency and the passenger travel efficiency. He must look to his over-all ground operations. How can VA make it happen while cutting ground cost for the passenger. Many a time I have gone through the trauma of crowds where everyone wants on board, on time! TSA screening is on the passengers watch. Past that point VA owns it. Get its passengers secured and to the gate once past the TSA  gateway. 

  My own "Travel Efficiency Experience Fantasy"

The Branson way would have a centrally located "restaurant" for its passengers in each airport terminal guaranteeing its customers timely boarding. The restaurant has a flight desk concierge that will provide a valet service to the boarding gate when the boarding starts. The valet will lead the VA flight party to the gate at the right time. Since spending time and money at restaurant its a win for the passenger as well as for VA. The passengers don't have to spend endless time in the hard and rowed boarding chairs with its endless CNN on caption. It can spend time drinking, eating and enjoying each others company until the valet summons everyone for its flight without impatience and worry.   

Just like restaurants with a waiting list they give you a card that blinks and vibrates, signaling your flight is ready card, just like a table is ready when it blinks. Once you check into the VA restaurant with your flight ticket in hand you are in VA's care. You card light go off and vibrates, you report to the valet station where you will be lead to your gate just a short distance away for boarding. Of course if you like to sit in those hard gate chairs. You can order the the food carry-on in a on Box with a carry handle for your flight included in the price of your ticket, tips not included. A VA "way station" is just one of many concepts that would add value and efficiency to the customer experience, and make added values dollars for the Branson operation. Customers could choose VA over other airlines in order to guarantee its own customer experience.