Importance Of Digital Transformation In Aviation To Winning Customers Back

Nitin holds over two decades of experience in digital transformation, product design & user experience, while specializing in leading multi-functional teams and establishing best user experience practices and processes.

Across the globe, COVID-19 has remarkably changed the everyday behaviour of billions of people. It has forced many to move online be it for their shopping needs, entertainment or making a flight booking, hence further fuelling the pace of digital transformation. The rapid change, majorly due to economic downturn, shift in preferences and digital acceleration, have important implications on the way we do business and retain our customers.

For companies which were quick to accept change and act accordingly, it has been an opportunity to lead and help shape the new normal. With the travel industry adapting to these new norms, there has been an added focus on creating experiences which attract brand loyalty. At the same time, it is also important to understand the customer behavioural changes are not linear and customer loyalty will be defined by the value and sentiments that the new experiences deliver.

The onset of a pandemic, that too of global proportions, inadvertently calls for making temporary as well as permanent changes. During such times, it becomes all the more important to plan ahead for possible shift in trends, understanding changes in customer sentiments, analyse the next steps and develop solutions to help us adapt to the changes so as to continue the pace of moving forward. The digital platform has a major role in empowering this change as it has the maximum potential and impact in the current times. This is why IndiGo's digital transformation was the focal point, now more than ever.

With more brands utilising their digital presence, the competition has been increasing at a healthy pace

The Indian audience's response to digital media has been a positive one. With more brands utilising their digital presence, the competition has been increasing at a healthy pace. This in turn has provided customers with more exposure, wider options and experiences that are memorable. This makes it important for brands to provide experiences rather than sell products ­ something that lets the customer see what is in it for them rather than brands emphasising on what their product is. In a post-pandemic scenario, this meant building confidence about travel, reassuring hygiene in the services provided to them at every step of the way, communicating safety practices and adherence to government mandated guidelines to further reiterate your priorities for them. So, choosing an airline now becomes much more than just the airfare.

As with every other brand, going digital in every way possible is what we focused on. Our priority was to take customer queries and resolutions online, so as to reduce the load on call centres and also provide faster turnaround. It was all the more important to stay on top of the constantly changing travel guidelines to keep customers informed and ready for travel.

To tackle the mounting number of cancellations and refunds requested for, we launched the credit shell functionality. This allowed customers to save their booking fare online and use it for a later booking, in a few simple steps. Self-service options such as Plan B also helped them modify/cancel their bookings.

The lockdown led to the most internet usage ever seen in recent times, and led every brand to make the most of their digital and social platforms. Apart from educating the audience on travel updates, the new guidelines, re-instilling trust by showcasing our hygiene practices, we also leveraged the sentiments of being home bound and experiencing travel pangs to create relatable content.

As travel reopened, we strategized on digitising as many experiences as possible. Making web check-in mandatory, providing online health declaration, creating QR code standees at the airport are among the many steps taken for minimising contact at the airport and maximising a hassle-free experience. by expanding our services to other digital platforms such as integrating our chatbot, Dottie, to Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, further added to the customers' self-service options. These platforms also helped us get closer to our customers in providing instant updates and queries. The human-like characteristics and responses of our chatbot, Dottie, helped us further on this front. Its highly conversational and friendly personality made customers comfortable in conversing with Dottie, to the extent that many assumed it to be an actual human behind the screen.

If there is one thing that has come to the forefront this year, it is the need for cultivating on human-centric communication to connect with the audience in such challenging times. Finding the perfect balance between human approach, design thinking, business needs and technology is what enabled us to rebuild trust in our customers and rise back up again and provide value in our services.

Customers are key at every step of our strategy, and therefore drive the journey of our digital transformation. Even though COVID-19 led us to socially distance ourselves from our customers, we have been able to innovatively come closer than ever to them through our virtual and digital platforms. The one thing that remains unchanged throughout this extremely unusual year is our promise of always providing hassle-free experiences at every step of the way.