Making our guests happy means placing customers and their needs at the centre of everything we do. Salesforce is the heart of this customer-obsessed approach as it gives us a complete view of our guests across all channels, allowing us to deliver a faster, more personalised service.”

Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO
 

20million

service cases through Salesforce each year

 

As the largest low-cost airline in Asia, AirAsia will fly almost 100 million passengers to around 200 destinations this year. That’s a mighty task, and evidence that attitudes to air travel in Southeast Asia have drastically transformed over recent years.

“Air travel used to be something of a luxury,” says Aireen Omar, Deputy Group CEO of AirAsia. “Before we started, less than 10 per cent of the population in Asia used air travel as a mode of transportation. Now we’re looking at more than 20 per cent.”

Serving such a rapidly developing market has been a challenge for AirAsia. But it’s a challenge the company has conquered through an innovative approach that uses digital transformation to drive the customer obsession that is at the centre of the airline’s ongoing success. Salesforce has been a key tool in that digital transformation.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes explains: “Making our guests happy means placing customers and their needs at the centre of everything we do. Salesforce is the heart of this customer-obsessed approach as it gives us a complete view of our guests across all channels, allowing us to deliver a faster, more personalised service.”

Prior to the Salesforce deployment, AirAsia ran six call centres – all in different locations – and managed web forms through a variety of platforms with varying degrees of compatibility with each other.

The result was silo thinking that put the onus on the customer to use the right communication channel for the right request in the right location. This led to customer frustration as queries were juggled between teams with long response times.

AirAsia turned to Salesforce Service Cloud to bring all customer communication channels into a single, easy to manage platform.

“From a customer happiness point of view, what that really means is making sure that we're talking to our customers in the channel that makes the most sense for them,” says Adam Geneave, Chief Customer Happiness Officer at AirAsia.

“If a customer wanted to talk to us in live chat 12 months ago, they would have waited over 45 minutes, sometimes it took us two days to respond to a Twitter message, and we had long wait times in call centres and to respond to emails. Now, we respond to social media messages within a few minutes, and there is no wait time for live chat.”

 

Salesforce provides deep learning about our customers. With that knowledge we can then work on projects, processes and systems to keep innovating and improving our customers’ experiences.”

Adam Geneave, Chief Customer Happiness Officer, AirAsia

Maximising customer happiness isn’t just about reducing wait times. It’s also about providing personalised experiences, and that requires detailed customer data to inform better decision-making.

“This data comes from various systems in our operations,” explains Omar. “Salesforce helps us see the trends and the behaviours of our guests, and by optimising and personalising our guests’ needs and wants, we can be ahead of the game.”

Salesforce draws data from these various systems into a single platform that is monitored and managed in AirAsia’s Command Centre “where duty managers are looking at live Salesforce dashboards to instantly identify trends that are occurring in the business and looking at tweets coming through on Social Studio,” says Geneave.

“This provides deep learning about our customers. With that knowledge we can then work on projects, processes and systems to keep innovating and improving our customers’ experiences.”

Innovations have included a WeChat integration to better connect with customers in China, the development of a sophisticated chat bot that has taken some of the customer service load off the Live Chat team, and the introduction of facial recognition technology to improve passenger flow at airports.

Finding innovative and creative solutions has been made possible with the assistance of an onsite Success Cloud team from Salesforce. “The Success Cloud team has really made us a much more agile business in relation to the rollout out and the ongoing enhancements we do,” says Geneave.

Salesforce system and program architects from the Success Cloud team were embedded in the AirAsia office to assist with the rollout, and AirAsia has retained a full-time onsite Salesforce program architect who has partnered with AirAsia’s own in-house developers to help drive ongoing enhancements to the system.

“Having a Salesforce program architect who literally sits six feet from my desk means we've got someone we can go to almost every day with questions like: "Hey, we've got this idea. Will this actually work with Salesforce?’,” Geneave explains. “It allows us to be very agile in the sort of projects we're managing because we get immediate confidence that things we're doing we will be able to integrate with Salesforce. The reality is that, without the Salesforce program architect, the projects we've delivered over the last 12 months probably would've taken us three or four years.”

Geneave also points out the valuable role that Trailhead - the online learning platform offered by Salesforce - has played in the success of both the Salesforce deployment and its ongoing development.

“Trailhead is really useful for us,” he says. “We use it for our initial ground-school training for team members coming into our voice and digital call centrres. But what's really great about Trailhead is that staff can keep growing their Salesforce knowledge over time by regularly going into the Trailhead platform and earning their badges with new courses.

“And it has been critical for our leadership teams as well,” Geneave continues. “Even for those of us who know the platform extremely well, there's always more to learn and there's always new features launching. I was recently on a treadmill at 6.30am reading a Trailhead article, for example, and I learned something brand new about what Salesforce can do. We're very passionate about doing more and more Trailhead courses to better understand the system.”

Live Chat Officer Floi Gueco says that receiving proper training through Trailhead articles and walk-throughs made the transition to Salesforce easy, and he is seeing significant gains in his own productivity thanks to self-service knowledge base articles available to AirAsia customers via Community Cloud.

“Our guests can search any topic before they even submit a support ticket, which deflects customers from going to other support channels,” he says. “They can also see the progress of their own support cases, and when we’re aware of a flight disruption, we can post a travel advisory so our guests are proactively informed.”

“Travellers these days are more sophisticated,” concludes Omar. “People are looking for experiences, and to be able to fulfill the needs and wants of our customers is really about how we embrace technology and how we understand and make use of the data that technology delivers.”

 

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