How personalisation has helped boost Heathrow’s digital revenue by 30%.

Heathrow Airport uses data + AI to provide the best airport service in the world.

Time to read: 7 minutes
 
 
 

Rushing through a busy airport can feel stressful. Rushing through an airport that serves 200+ destinations, operates 1,000+ flights a day, and welcomes 70M+ passengers a year, can feel overwhelming. But not at Heathrow Airport. Luckily for travelers, it is committed to giving every passenger the best airport service in the world.

Heathrow uses Salesforce Customer 360 to empower partners and employees with a single view of its customers. This means passengers can access the right airport services at the right time – from buying a new handbag 30 minutes before they board their plane to booking a parking space months in advance. Now, millions of passengers can truly sit back, relax, and enjoy the entire travel experience.

“Heathrow is one of the biggest airports in the world. We also want to be one of the best airports in the world,” said former CEO John Holland-Kaye. “Salesforce Customer 360 helps us make every journey better for millions of passengers.”

Better journeys mean happier customers and stronger business outcomes. Heathrow, which operates with the support of around 75,000 people, is now Europe’s busiest airport and second in the world for international travel. Greater integration, automation, and personalisation have also helped the airport boost digital revenue by 30% since 2019.

Here are some key takeaways from Heathrow’s digital journey that can help you unlock greater value for your business.

 
 

“With Salesforce, we can enrich the digital experience for millions of customers. It helps us get closer to our vision of giving passengers the best airport service in the world.”

John Holland-Kaye, former CEO
 

1. Increase customer satisfaction with seamless digital experiences.

An airport terminal might mark the start of a customer’s journey, but it’s not the start of a customer’s experience. It begins much earlier when a passenger books an overnight stay to catch an early flight or checks transport links. “How customers engage with airport services has completely changed,” said Kylie Andrews, Heathrow’s Head of Digital. “Around 90% of passengers now use websites and apps as part of their overall journey.” With 14 websites and 45 backend systems, Heathrow Airport was struggling to keep pace with this shift in behavior. “Our digital services were very disjointed,” said Bob Stickland, Head of Technology for Commercial and Digital Platforms at Heathrow. “We needed to focus more on the customer experience and less on our internal processes.” With Salesforce Customer 360, shopping, parking, support services, and customer communications now all run on the same platform, which means passengers get the seamless experience they expect. Now, a daughter can call the customer service team from the train to check airport security rules for her mom’s favorite loose leaf tea, and place an order online to collect when she reaches the terminal.

“Our customers are demanding more from our digital experiences, and Salesforce is helping us meet their expectations,” said Andrews. Satisfaction ratings for the overall airport experience are higher when a passenger has engaged with a digital service, such as reserving a parking space. And the volume of these interactions is constantly increasing: the digital channel share has grown by around 25% since 2019.

 
increase in digital channel share in four years.
 
 
 

Set a course for your customer relationships.

Map every customer moment. In this in-depth guide, you’ll get:

  • Five sample customer journeys for growth, onboarding, engagement, retention, and support
  • Use cases from marketing leaders
  • Insights from the latest industry research
 

See the power of journeys.

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2. Connected customer data unlocks richer insights.

A honeymoon. A family reunion. A business trip. People go to airports for lots of different reasons. Heathrow wants to ensure it provides the right services to the right customers – all 70 million of them. “There’s no point telling a traveler flying home to New York about short-term parking at the airport when they’ve just jumped on the Heathrow Express,” said Peter Burns, Marketing and Digital Director at Heathrow.

With Salesforce Data Cloud, Heathrow can capture passenger interactions from multiple channels in a single place and share this data in real time with different teams. “We have one of the most diverse customer bases on the planet,” said Stickland. “With Salesforce, we can tap into new insights and offer new experiences that make passengers feel special. It gives us a single golden thread.”

By connecting customer service, marketing, and ecommerce interactions in Data Cloud, Heathrow will be able to anticipate what a passenger needs before their next visit to the airport. For example, it could see that a business traveler always buys the same products in duty free and remind them to place a click & collect order. 

The customer data platform, which was implemented with support from Salesforce Professional Services and Acxiom, will become the central point for all passenger records. By centralising its data and simplifying its tech stack, Heathrow has also been able to boost agility and security. “When you are switching between different systems, there’s a risk you will expose data. It also takes longer to spot customer trends,” said Leanne Lynch, former Technology and Cyber Defence Director at Heathrow. “With a single customer platform, we can stay one step ahead of what passengers want.”

 
 

“With smarter digital services, we can extend customer relationships beyond physical trips to the airport.”

Bob Stickland, Head of Technology for Commercial and Digital Platforms
 

3. Boost customer spend with greater personalisation.

With a single customer view, the sky’s the limit for personalisation at Heathrow. It uses Marketing Cloud to send targeted communications at key points before, during, and after a customer’s journey. For example, an email recommending last-minute holiday purchases or passenger lounge options can be triggered as soon as a customer pulls into a Heathrow car park.
 
open rate for personalised customer emails.

“We can now understand and segment our customers better, which means we can share relevant offers that enrich their experience and drive revenue,” said Meenal Varsani, Head of Marketing and Customer Engagement for Heathrow Airport. “We’ve already seen an increase in average transaction value and spend per visit for customers that have opted to receive marketing communications.”

As Heathrow embraces more digital channels and creates more content, the marketing team needs to ensure it is delivering maximum value. Marketing Cloud Intelligence connects 30+ data sources to provide a unified view of performance. This helps the team focus on the right campaigns and communications to increase the return on investment from marketing.

 
 

“With Salesforce, we can provide personalised experiences that meet passenger needs – even if they are one in 70 million.”

Peter Burns, Marketing and Digital Director
 

4. Deeper ecommerce integration helps increase digital revenue by 30%.

Heathrow is not only transforming its own digital services; it’s enabling new connections between customers and hundreds of partners. Retail and catering concessions account for around 10% of the airport’s annual revenue – and Heathrow wants to make it easier for customers to connect with these brands.

Heathrow has launched a Retail Reserve & Collect service that enables people to make purchases online before they reach the airport. “With Commerce Cloud, we can provide passengers with more physical and digital shopping options – even if their favorite brand doesn’t have a presence in the terminal,” said Andrews.

By integrating its ecommerce platform with customer service and marketing tools, Heathrow can update passengers on their orders, like that sleep mask they bought, and recommend a set of earplugs to go with it.

Heathrow has also transformed how it processes online quotes and purchases for its parking services, which has helped to increase conversion rates. “Within a month of migrating our parking services to Commerce Cloud, we achieved our highest ever revenue and online Net Promoter Score,” said Burns.

The airport’s overall digital revenue has increased by 30% despite a 20% fall in passengers following the COVID-19 pandemic. “Salesforce makes up-selling and cross-selling much easier. And that helps make our team more efficient,” said Andrews.

 
 

“With smarter digital tools and richer data, we can provide seamless shopping experiences that boost customer satisfaction and spend.”

Kylie Andrews, Head of Digital
 

5. Guide passengers at each step of their journey with efficient customer service.

On a busy day, over 200,000 passengers pass through Heathrow. And they all expect great customer service. But how do you deliver this efficiently and cost-effectively on such a massive scale?

From online forms to knowledge articles and chatbots, the airport is empowering its customers and colleagues to answer queries faster and smarter. For example, if a passenger is running late for a connecting flight, they can start a live chat on their phone as soon as they disembark the plane to check the quickest route to the departure gate.

With Service Cloud, Heathrow can make sure these types of time-sensitive questions are answered quickly. It has created automated rules that help to categorise and prioritise cases on different channels.

Heathrow uses Service Cloud to log every interaction on every channel, which gives its customer service agents a 360-degree view. By capturing this data on a single platform, team leaders can also identify opportunities to further improve service quality and efficiency. For example, Heathrow has used Service Cloud to create knowledge articles that answer common parking questions, which means passengers no longer have to contact the customer service team.

Einstein chatbots have also helped to significantly reduce call volumes and free up agent time. “With Salesforce, we can provide anytime, anywhere support more easily and effectively,” said Varsani.

 
 

“Our customer service team is more efficient, which means they can spend more time helping more passengers.”

Meenal Varsani, Head of Marketing and Customer Engagement
 
 

4K

questions answered by
chatbots in an average month

 

450%

increase in live chat
usage since launch

 

27%

reduction in average
call handling time

 
 
 

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