Qantas to link up with mining, gas HQs to coordinate weather evacuations

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Qantas to link up with mining, gas HQs to coordinate weather evacuations
Qantas' Matt Gould.

Uses software to get closer to business customers.

Qantas is hoping to use software to establish closer ties with the head offices of mining, oil and gas customers in the northern part of Australia to aid weather-related evacuations of workers.

This is one of “a number of use cases” for Salesforce’s Quip productivity suite, which Qantas is adding to its five year old Salesforce environment via a transformation project.

Sales business improvement manager Matt Gould told last month’s Salesforce Dreamforce 19 conference that the transformation aims to help sales and account managers tailor services to key government and business customers.

It is also about getting these business and government customers to use the airline more by having “real-time conversations” on their needs and how Qantas might be able to meet them.

This will largely take the form - at least from the technology side - on Quip documents for strategic account planning, account performance reviews and other activities.

The documents can be collaborated on with customers directly, and therefore should give Qantas more opportunities to engage with key accounts, to recognise opportunities, and to invite expertise from other parts of Qantas that are not presently part of its Salesforce environment.

“The beautiful thing about strategic account planning now ... is you can share it with your customer,” Gould said. 

“You can surface key information from inside Salesforce so they can see it, they can comment on it, and contribute to the document.

“The operational areas of our business can also contribute even though they're not a part of the Salesforce instance. 

“So we're bringing the customer, we're bringing the strength and the knowledge elsewhere in our organisation, and the account manager, all to bear on the customer's problems that we're trying to plan for inside the strategic account plan.”

The ability to have multiple parts of Qantas and the customer’s organisation collaborate could also be put to the test on an emerging use case around evacuating personnel from resources sites.

“There's a very long list of use cases [for Quip], but a big one is that we have a lot of our largest customers that are mining and oil & gas customers that operate in the northern part of Australia, where there are a lot of cyclones and large weather events,” Gould said.

“We need to coordinate really effectively to drive a safe way of evacuating a lot of those customers and moving them back to the southern part of our country at certain times of the year.

“To be able to bring the operational, head office component on the customer side together with our operational team and account managers inside one [virtual] space to really ensure the safety of our travellers and moving them back down to those southern regions during those periods, is a huge piece that we want to focus on.

“I think it’s also a great opportunity to show the impact of something as simple as Quip can have.”

Complex sales environment

The introduction of Quip into Qantas’ Salesforce environment has been underway for the past 12 to 18 months.

Qantas has used Salesforce since 2014. It was introduced at a time the airline ran into financial difficulty owing to high oil prices and an influx of competition on domestic and international routes.

“We introduced Salesforce to really try and transform our organisation's approach to market, and the way that we can do that was to really bring information together so we had a single source of truth,” Gould said.

“Not only did Salesforce allow us to do that, it also allowed us to bring consistency and efficiency into our sales process. All our sales processes now sit inside Salesforce.”

In the following five years, use of Salesforce went from 430 staff to “over 1400”.
The airline operates two internal Salesforce organisations or “orgs”. One is home to Qantas, frequent flyer, and freight; the other is for Jetstar.

The introduction of Quip is seen as “the next stage of our Salesforce journey”.

“Where we're applying Quip at the moment is in the premium airline component of our organisation,” Gould said.

The airline has three major groups of customers it is hoping to get closer to. 

“Our business and government customers are our largest customers in terms of revenue,” he said.

“Then [there’s] our small-to-medium enterprise customers; both of these we service through face-to-face or inside sales channels. 

“And then we've got our Qantas business rewards customers, which - while smaller in terms of revenue - are larger in terms of the volume, and we service them through our digital self-service channels.”

When Gould joined Qantas, he saw a need for the sales organisations to become even more customer-centric.

“We needed to figure out how we were going to engage that customer at the frontline in the best way possible so they understood our proposition, and understood how to get the most out of that product or the service that we're providing,” he said.

“We're really trying to elevate and take ourselves to the next level in terms of our sales business, and that really centres around three key areas as part of our strategy: to know our customer better, to be able to partner with them effectively, and then to actually execute at speed.

“We are trying to deliver a more personalised experience so we want to be a true strategic partner.”

Gould said account managers now needed to talk to more people in a customer organisation than ever before.

He also noted that marketing, sales and operations at Qantas needed to be aligned to ensure customer experience is consistent.

“We operate in a very unique space in some ways where our most premium B2C customers are often the ones making the decision on the B2B side,” he said. 

“So, the CFO, for example, at Salesforce is on a plane flying to Australia. He's a premium B2C customer, but at the same time could also be the one making a buying decision on the B2B side, so we have to make sure there's that connect between the operation of our business and the frontline sales team all the time, and Salesforce really enables that.”

Account reviews

In addition to strategic account planning, Quip is also fast-tracking account reviews.

Gould said these were occurring quarterly and allowed the sales team to have conversations with customers on how the account was performing.

“What that actually entailed on the backend is every time an account manager wanted to do that, it would raise a case in Salesforce, it would go to our sales support team, they would then go in and extract an Excel file from a third-party source, and then they would - I kid you not - manually type cells from that file into a PowerPoint document, and then send that back out to the account manager and close the case,” Gould said.

“That could take anywhere between 40 to 50 minutes per PowerPoint document. And when you think about that, over 800 to 1200 accounts every quarter, that's a significant amount of time you're spending on a very, very transactional activity.”

Through the transformation, now when the third-party Excel file “on performance across all of our accounts” becomes available, “we basically just tweak that file, pull it down into Quip spreadsheets, and that spreadsheet just feeds Quip slides”. 

“So an account manager just goes in every single month, they know the date, they can access the most recent version of their account review pack and put that in front of the customer,” Gould said.

“That takes about 5-10 minutes rather than 40-50 minutes, so it’s a huge saving in terms of productivity inside our sales support team, and that's enabled them to actually shift to more value-add activity.

“Account managers can now ask them questions to go and find more insights to really add value to the conversation they're having with the customer rather than just inputting data.”

Partnership model

Gould said the ability to involve customers more closely in strategic planning processes is already paying dividends.

“It's not a strategic account plan anymore. It's a joint business plan between us and our customers. And we've seen a lot more engagement as a result of that,” he said.

“We're also able to get information in the hands of our customers quicker, so that we can have real-time conversations with them about how they're performing, how they can save more money as a result of flying with Qantas, and how they can derive more value from the partnership and relationship they have with us, so we’re executing at speed.”

Ry Crozier attended Salesforce’s Dreamforce 19 conference in San Francisco as a guest of Salesforce.

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