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Virgin Atlantic reaches new heights in customer experience with Adobe

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels June 16, 2023
Virgin Atlantic is using a suite of Adobe tools to create personalized services for passengers before, during and after their flights.

virgin atlantic

Virgin Atlantic wants to get to know its passengers even better and to develop richer, personalized customer journeys.

The airline wants to create thoughtful and differentiated customer experiences (CX), according to Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Chief Experience Officer at Virgin Atlantic:

Virgin Atlantic has a mission to be the most-loved travel company. But to be most loved, what you need is an understanding of meaningful moments. That insight can help us to create points of differentiation in a commoditized industry.

Fitzpatrick says finding key points of differentiation is far from straightforward. She says the key to pushing further innovation in CX is a “double helix” – the fusion of insight between a customer journey and an employee journey.

Simon Langthorne, Head of CRM at Virgin Atlantic, adds:

Personalization is difficult – to be able to do it at scale and, ideally, at a one-to-one level. To get the data in the right place, and to get the right information to our frontline teams or into our digital channels, is challenging from an integration perspective. Adobe’s technology helps us to deal with these issues at scale.

Virgin Atlantic is a long-time user of Adobe technology. The airline’s use of the technology provider’s tools has changed since COVID-19. Rather than simply being an integrated CRM platform that supports marketing efforts, Langthorne says Adobe today is the “technological enabler” for the company’s personalization efforts:

During the pandemic, we used Adobe to help us with all our service activities, such as refunds or cancellations. And we saw a huge opportunity in terms of consolidating everything into the Adobe stack. We had five legacy CRM platforms before that were doing lots of different things. From a customer experience and brand perspective, the data needed to be joined up.

Reaching take-off speed

The shift from legacy systems to a consolidated Adobe platform has now been completed. Virgin Atlantic uses a range of Adobe tools, including Target, Audience Manager, Campaign, Analytics and Experience Manager. The airline is also running a proof-of-concept study with Adobe Experience Platform. Langthorne explains that the company consolidated its data on Adobe technology because of its stability and scalability:

We already had expertise for the platform in the business and had benefited from the support from Adobe and their partners. The various tools connect together very well. That integration is key in terms of ensuring we have scalability.

The Adobe platform supports all Virgin Atlantic’s operational communications, from booking confirmation and payment reminders through to delays and cancellations. On top of that operational layer, are sales-led communications, such as those for bookings or prompts for people who’ve recently browsed the airline’s site.

Langthorne’s team also focuses on pre-flight activities. The airline has an integrated view of its data that support personalzsation. He says the better you prepare your customers before they get on a plane, the higher the Net Promoter Score:

It’s all about making sure the insight we have for communication and messaging is as relevant as possible. A family, for example, will need to know very different things before they get on a plane than someone who's going on a business trip.

Virgin Atlantic uses a mixture of Adobe Campaign, Target and Analytics to segment its audience and provide personalised communications. Langthorne says the best example of the company marrying up its digital and physical worlds is the airline’s pre-order service, which allows passengers to make specific meal choices based on their flight cabin, or to even opt out of food altogether if they don’t want to be disturbed:

It saves our crew a substantial amount of time in terms of engaging with our customers during the flight. And our customers can make choices with a more personalized feel that are based on the experiences they want to have on board.

Final destination

Langthorne says the Adode suite makes it much easier to connect data sources, produce insight and deliver personalised services to customers. He says one of the key benefits of the technology is being able to create a unified understanding of the airline’s passengers:

A lot of the power of the programs are based on the health of the data that sits behind. It’s about creating a full picture of the customer profile, so we're able to adapt and personalize the journey. It all starts with data.

One of the team’s priorities now is to find fresh ways to resolve customer issues quickly. The aim is to join up insight, so however passengers contact the airline – either online or offline – their issues are dealt with swiftly and effectively. Langthorne says the airline is also beta testing Adobe’s AI-based product Firefly, which could help staff create personalized content:

We've got a catalog of content, but to create new content can take quite a lot of time. So, if I want to personalize something based on families going to Disney World, how can we create that content quickly and without having to do an expensive photo shoot, but in a way that still follows our brand guidelines?

Fitzpatrick concludes: 

We want to use Adobe to identify those moments of recognition that truly have value or meaning to you. These moments won’t just be provided by technology, but by a human who recognizes you at the points you want to be recognised, whether that’s pre-flight, at check-in, or on board.

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