Alaska Airlines is one of the leading airline companies that offers superior customer service. The company has recently incorporated text messaging into its strategy and is showing great results. Alaska Airlines has the happiest customers in US according to a survey, which was implemented based on factors such as costs, in-flight services, aircraft quality, baggage handling, flight crew, check-in experience, and booking process. This is no surprise to its existing customers.
The mobile interaction is of great importance to Alaska Airlines. According to the company, about 70% of people who contact them use mobile and about 40% of their requests can be handled via a text message. The airline has been using Free Texting feature that enables inflight texting by connecting to a wifi for free. Although this feature is now used by many other airlines too, Alaska was among the first companies to use it. Now, the company has gone further in improving its customer service and introduced text message marketing.
The Implications of SMS Marketing in the Airlines Industry
Alaska Airlines use mass text messaging to help people with:
- Flight delays
- Schedule changes
- Support for animal request
- Assigning seats
- Requesting accessible travel services and questions about Alaska frequent flier program
All of these features are available to everyone. Also, if you have an upcoming reservation, then text messaging can also help you with:
- Mileage Plan (e.g. - enrolling in Mileage Plane)
- Cancellation or making changes to your reservation
- Paid seat upgrades
- Making new reservations
All these features make the experience with the airline company more time-saving and enjoyable. For the frequently asked questions, Alaska Airlines has established the Ask Jenn feature, which is an automated system that deals with all of the commonly asked questions.
How Alaska Airlines Make SMS Marketing Work
Alaska Airlines uses all of the above mentioned features in its text messaging strategy, but the way they use these features is more important in their success rate than just what features they use. Alaska Airlines uses SMS marketing for 2 main purposes: travel efficiency and customer loyalty.
Alaska Airlines has introduced My Trips feature to facilitate the regulation of your flight via mobile. You can change your seat, review the status of the flight, view itineraries and add reservation number to the Mileage Plan with the help of this feature.
In general, the traveling process is divided into 3 stages of before, during and after, and text messaging is optimized for each stage accordingly. Alaska Airlines customers can use text message service to check-in 1 to 24 hours prior the flight. They can also access and download the electronic boarding passes via SMS. The boarding pass in the mobile wallet is always automatically updated. SMS services are also available onboard of plane and people can use it to find out any info regarding the flight, such as what meals are available or when the plane will get to the destination.
Text services also keep passengers updated on information such as the gate number, gate change, luggage pick-up or any other relevant information. After each trip, people are also notified about the number of points they earned for their Mileage Plan. They will also tell you how many points are left until getting to the gold status.
Alaska Airlines uses text message marketing to retain the customers and build a strong and trustworthy relationship with them. The messages are used to create a hyper-personalized experience via mobile. There are three main techniques of mass text messages that Alaska Airline uses to boost customer loyalty and trust.
- Choosing the best timing for sending the messages - the airline has a lot of data regarding each passenger. The information includes customer-related data (slight times, layover location and duration, loyalty information) and more general data (weather, current time, airport information systems). Combining all of these helps to determine the best timing to send the message, which is the key to creating personalized messages for each user. Being there for customers at exactly the time and place they need is the ultimate way to gain their loyalty.
2. Collecting feedback - the company always uses text message services to receive feedback about the flight, by asking the customers to rate their experience and make suggestions if any. The feedback collection usually covers the whole experience: from booking the tickets to getting the luggage and leaving the airport.
3. Providing perks within the loyalty program - to earn customer loyalty, Alaska Airlines provides its passengers with many benefits and special offers via SMS service. For example, the company may send you a message informing you that if you book a trip sometime during next month, you will earn double miles. The airline can also provide you with a special promo code that will give you a discount or other perks, valid either for a specific time period or for certain destinations.
Creating an Effective SMS Marketing Strategy for the Airlines Industry
Alaska Airlines is extremely successful in its text message marketing in US, and currently, it sets all the standards for the rest of the industry. For 10 years in a row, Alaska Airlines is awarded highest in traditional career satisfaction. The company knows how to keep its passengers satisfied via mobile, by being extraordinary in its communication and showing remarkable results.
As an airline company, you should consider integrating text messaging into your customer service and make your SMS offers irresistible. The following tricks will help you to become successful:
- Plan and organize your data regarding the passengers to create the best experience for them. Coming up with an efficient data strategy is #1 priority.
- Make your SMS marketing safe and reliable. Your customers must be able to opt-out from receiving messages whenever they want. Alaska Airlines has won the FAA Okay for its SMS marketing program, so consider the techniques they use to reach the same safety milestone.
- The only way to build a strong relationship with your customers via text message service is to ensure that your messages are valuable and useful. Use text messaging only to give your customers information they need and ask for.
- Use text messaging to make the customer experience more enjoyable by facilitating processes, such as the check-in, finding the gate or getting the luggage.
Building good connection with customers via SMS will improve your brand affinity, customer loyalty, while reducing the expensive customer service call fees.