On April 24 this year, a brand new aircraft will take off from Bergen Airport in Norway, carrying passengers on the two-hour flight to Tromso Airport in the country’s far north, where many visitors travel to see the Northern Lights at their best. The plane in question will be the new E190-E2 from Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer, a 114-seat, medium-range jet, and the launch customer is Scandinavian regional airline Widerøe.
Widerøe has invested in three of these new jets from Embraer and has the option to buy another twelve in future. It has also entered into an MRO [maintenance, repair and operations] deal with Embraer, under the manufacturer’s Flight Hour Pool Program, which will cover more than 300 components on each aircraft.
This program is designed to allow airlines to focus on aircraft operations and rely on Embraer to manage the supply chain for ‘rotable’ components – that is to say, those that need to be removed from the aircraft and serviced or rebuilt at regular intervals (after a certain number of take-offs or landings, for example.)
Deep insight into customers and aircraft
Deals like this require Embraer to have not just a deep understanding of its customers, but also of each and every aircraft it sells, right down to individual components, explains Johann Bordais, President and CEO of Embraer Service & Support.
In fact, he adds, the company increasingly needs that visibility for all of the aircraft it sells and right across the three sectors in which it operates, namely commercial, executive and military aviation. For this insight, it relies heavily on cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) applications from Salesforce, he says:
It’s not an easy task. You don’t deal with the Air Force of Columbia, for example, in the same way that you do with a commercial airline such as Jet Blue, but our goal is to offer the very best customer support to every customer in every segment, which is where my business unit is so important.
In the past, Bordais explains, customer service and support was handled individually by each of the separate businesses. At the start of 2017, Embraer Services & Support was established, with him at the helm, to coordinate this work across the three divisions.
Already, the new business unit supports some 2,400 aircraft around the world. To do so, it relies on Embraer’s Salesforce platform, on which the company is centralizing data relating to its aircraft – information that was previously distributed across 80 different databases at the company.
A 360-degree view
Embraer’s implementation of Salesforce began in 2014, with a view to replacing a wide range of manual processes and outdated on-premise systems, and get a 360-degree view of its customers and aircraft, explains Gustavo Ribeiro, Embraer’s global CRM integration director.
For 2018, the priority is to get the Service & Support business using a wider range of the apps it has already implemented, which include Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud and Analytics.
This, Bordais hopes, should be more than enough to help his business unit meet its goals in terms of offering a responsive and personalized service to each customer – one that is based on proactive engagement, he says, from sales prospect to initial purchase to ongoing aircraft maintenance:
Predicting the unpredictable is our ultimate mission, as a our customers simply do not like surprises with operational interruptions.
Customer are also able to plan ahead better for new purchases. With Embraer Community Cloud, they can access an online catalogue of more than 600 products and services – such as add-on WiFi, seating arrangements and interior design – enabling them to easily customize their aircraft. This is, of course, a particular selling point when it comes to picking an executive jet.
Right now, Embraer’s future is a little uncertain. In December 2017, it was revealed that the company was in talks with Boeing over a what the two companies publicly referred to as a ‘potential combination’.
Were it to go ahead, a takeover would combine the world’s largest aerospace company with the third largest passenger jet maker – but that seems increasingly unlikely. The Brazilian government is reportedly reluctant to relinquish its share in Embraer and a joint venture or partnership now seems more likely.
But either way, MRO deals are big business for all aircraft manufacturers: Embraer, Boeing and rival Airbus, too. Achieving the requisite insight to anticipate and preempt aircraft issues is the key to keeping MRO deals ticking along nicely – and, on this journey, Embraer looks to be on schedule.
Image credit - Embraer
Disclosure - At time of writing, Salesforce is a premier partner of diginomica