Qantas’ Customer Relationship Management
According to Law and Leung (2000) the use of technology in customer relationship management is a key consideration for any competitive airline. Qantas airline has demonstrated the importance of technology in both strategic management and in operational functions as well. In customer relations management (CRM), the key aspect is to generate and utilize customer data efficiently. Qantas has ensured that customer data is captured and used to plan for future transactions while establishing and maintaining valuable relationships with their customers. This has been made possible through Qantas’ commitment to technological transformation over time. Applying technology to CRM at Qantas has had a significant role of sustaining Qantas’ business in the competitive airline industry faced with numerous challenges (McNickel, 2013). This is because CRM automation at Qantas has been aligned with its competitive advantage which has been aiming at transforming customer experience while improving revenue at the same time.
Regarding the use of technology to deliver customer value, Qantas has over time used technology to help predict demand and therefore design products that would meet customer expectations. Through the use of ICT for instance, Qantas has been able to reduce dependence on subsidiaries as far as communication with customers is concerned (McNickel, 2013). In other words, technology has allowed Qantas to communicate directly with customers hence which is a less costly approach due to elimination of distribution costs that would otherwise be passed on to customers. Technology use at Qantas has enabled integrated operational systems resulting into operational efficiency that saves customers both time and cost while delivering convenience and comfort travel (Lee, 2001). Through efficient use of personnel and available equipment, Qantas has demonstrated that technology enhances the planning processes to help deliver customer value in the phase of numerous constraints such as air traffic, government regulations, increasing consumer demand against limited resources and the general need to minimize cost of operations. For instance, Qantas makes use of automated flight schedule management systems alongside automated operations control systems. The former is used to predict traffic whereas the latter is used to enable automatic computation and allocation of flight plans.
An important aspect of Qantas’ technology application in CRM is in line with the reservations, inventory and departure control process. In this respect, Qantas airline rolled out the famous ‘Amadeus’s Altéa’ which is an automated control system with inbuilt capability to directly receive data from airport information systems, airline’s load planning, as well as from freight and fuelling points (McNickel, 2013). The Amadeus’s Altéa enables auto loading such that the luggage is positioned to weight and balance on the plane thus, making it easier to load and offload while ensuring reduced fuel consumption. This process therefore means that Qantas has aimed at reducing time taken by its customers to check in while keeping tabs to necessary details. With this system, it is possible for the customers to know the available seats on the aircraft hence proceed not only to pre-allocate their desired seats, but also use telephone to check in.
Qantas has over time adopted new technologies aimed at deriving efficiency (McNickel, 2013). Most Australian airline terminals were established before airport privatization was undertaken. At that time, space was not a problem since passengers were not as many. However, following deregulation, the customer numbers have grown substantially prompting need for something to be done to ensure reduction of congestion if the same physical space is to be used by an airline. It is because of this that Qantas thought of providing multiple access points for her clients’ ticketing and bags inspection. Consequently, Qantas introduced the Quick Check Kiosks back in the year 2002. These were first introduced in Sydney and Melbourne airports but had teething issues and failed to deliver as expected.
Qantas has also used new technology to enhance CRM by installing in-flight monitoring equipment whereby its engineers back home base are able to monitor the performance of engines in-flight and therefore are in a position to give relevant and necessary advice to the cabin or technical crew on board in the event an engine develops a problem. This really goes a long way to guarantee to a significant level, the safety of the passengers and crew on board of the aircraft. On the other hand, Qantas has deployed a touch screen technology solution for onboard retailing aimed at enhancing their customer service through ensuring speed and ease (Lucas and Edkins, 2000). In so doing, Qantas has been able to attract customers from various market segments because of enhanced customer experience and quality service delivery.
Like many other airlines, Qantas communicates directly with its customers through their website. Customers are able to do their bookings through their website and this enables Qantas to bypass travel agencies and commissions. On the other hand, the use of technology has helped Qantas and other airlines as well to utilize electronic mail platform in promoting what is called last minute discounted rates for distressed capacity (Law and Leung, 2000). As a result, this not only benefits the consumers, but also the airline because such seats would otherwise go unsold. Qantas has also facilitated the use of wireless solutions for its clients to enable them connect and communicate with staff and with their families and friends anywhere anytime. This has been ensured through the Qantas mobile devices including iPads.
Qantas has also exhibited strong presence in the social media. Qantas airline for instance made use of social media platform to communicate their prices and taxes/fees. For instance, one of their tweeter accounts is @QantasUSA. For Qantas, the social media platform helps bring about a sense of community. Indeed Qantas is aware that social media will not only enhance interaction with her customers, but also helps market the Qantas brand within different segments hence, enhance her competitive advantage (Agusdinata and de Klein, 2002). Qantas has achieved this objective through the use Twitter social media to release tweets consistent with the Qantas’ premium image. It is important however to mention that the multiple use of tweeter accounts by Qantas, with each of them having a unique function is a challenge to be dealt with since customers may not understand or fully trust some of the information being passed.
Clearly therefore, the use of technology in CRM is a fundamental approach to inducing customer loyalty. Through automation, service delivery is greatly improved and customer experience enhanced. Without quality service delivery to customers, low prices alone cannot guarantee loyalty (Alamdari, 1999). The world has changed and continues to change, and without technologically aligned CRM, Qantas would risk losing market to her competitors because people need to associate with efficiency and comfort while at the same time, be assured of security, relatively affordable prices, and minimum time waste. Automated operations including bookings, loading and unloading as well as social media interaction saves time and cost of transactions for both the service provider (Qantas) and the customer.
Agusdinata, B., and de Klein, W., 2002, The dynamics of airline alliances, Journal of Air Transport Management, 8 (4), pp. 201–211.
Alamdari, F., 1999, Airline inflight entertainment: the passengers’ perspective Travel agent monitoring and management, Journal of Air Transport Management, 5 (5), 1999, pp.203-209.
Law, R., and Leung, R., 2000,”A study of Airlines’ Online Reservation Services on the Internet”, Journal of Travel Research 39 (2), pp. 202-211.
Lee, S., 2001, Modeling the business value of information technology, Information and Management, 39 (3), pp. 191-210.
Lucas, I., and Edkins, G., 2000, ‘Managing human factors at Qantas: Investing in a new approach for the future’ available at http://www.leadingedgesafety.com.au/FolioFiles/175/753-Managing%20Human%20Factors%20at%20Qantas.pdf (10/5/2013)
McNickel, D., 2013, ‘Switched on CFO: Peter Gregg, Qantas’ iStart Limited 2001-2013, available at http://www.istart.com.au/index/HM20/AL29454/AR210925 (10/5/2013)