The 'next frontier' in Qantas' big data journey

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The 'next frontier' in Qantas' big data journey

Understanding the customer beyond landing and departure.

Qantas CIO Luc Hennekens says he is no longer satisfied merely understanding his customers’ experience from the point they enter an airport to the point they leave it.

The custodian of one of Australia’s richest customer data programs, the Frequent Flyer loyalty scheme, said the airline’s "next frontier" in data deployment would be to understand the full breadth of the travel value chain on an individual level so as to tailor the customer experience.

Speaking at the CeBIT conference in Sydney yesterday, Hennekens said Qantas needed to make sure it better understood "how we as a service provider fit into the larger needs and broader activities and lives of our customers".

The CIO  wants to “widen the lens” of how frontline staff see each customer they deal with.

One early development has seen Qantas take a fresh look at the travel patterns of an individual over a period of time.

“You might have a customer who is a regular business traveller and as a result of that has a set of expectations that don't just apply when they travel for business, but also translate into different expectations when they travel with their family for a vacation,” Hennekens said.

“But if you look at someone who only travels once a year, they are going to have different expectations and different needs."

However, the kind of contextual insight the CIO is after could also come from a day-to-day understanding of what is going on in a customer’s life before they even check in.

“Over time we are looking at far more advanced features, like finding out if a customer is likely to miss their flight and then allowing them to flow forward onto the next available flight before they even get to the airport,” Hennekens said.

Other value-added perks that could be delivered through the Qantas app include one-off tickets to the Qantas lounge when there is spare space.

“Knowing the context of the customer at every stage of their journey is really what makes the difference between good and fantastic customer service,” Hennekens said. He described this kind of tailored treatment as a differentiator in a market where airlines are striving towards the standards of luxury brands.

Qantas, with its 11 million Frequent Flyer customers, a new money card, food and wine club, SME-targeted loyalty scheme and most recently a health insurance program, is sitting on just the kind of treasure trove that would allow it to achieve these data-driven ambitions.

Hennekens believes the organisation now has "all the big data we want" and says his priority is building the kind of culture and skills base that can make his vision a reality.

“Thanks to the transformation we have gone through over the past two years and our continued investment over the period into customer service, and thanks to the engagement of our people Qantas is probably in the strongest position it has been in for years,” he said.

“But we have to be ready to disrupt ourselves rather than waiting to be disrupted by others.”

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