Delta Banks on 19,000 Windows Phones to Ramp Up Customer Service
Delta's new devices will facilitate on-board transactions, and eventually they'll give flight attendants more details about customers as well. One question remains, however: Will they be enough to salvage airlines' poor reputation for customer service? "These handhelds are a step forward -- but a very small step," said David Johnson, principal of Strategic Vision.
Delta Air Lines has outfitted its more than 19,000 flight attendants with Windows Phone 8 mobile devices that it expects will further customer service and facilitate on-board transactions.
Specifically, the flight attendants are now using Nokia Lumia 820 devices equipped with a Delta-specific application developed by Avanade on the Microsoft Dynamics for Retail mobile point-of sale platform. Connectivity is provided via WiFi and AT&T's 4G LTE Network. Plans call for this application to be rolled out over the next three years on the newest Nokia devices.
By giving the flight attendants these devices, "they can better meet our customers' needs on board every flight," said Joanne Smith, Delta's senior vice president for In-Flight Service.
Starting on Monday, flight attendants on Delta Connection flights will begin using the device as well.
A Delta spokesperson was not immediately available to provide further details.
Keep the Change
The most immediate improvement customers will see from this investment is a streamlined on-board purchase experience. The devices can handle credit card processing for such transactions, including upgrades to Delta's Economy Comfort seating. On-board Economy Comfort upgrades is a new feature that Delta will begin offering first on transcontinental and international flights.
The application also supports eReceipts that can be emailed to customers as well as prepaid credit cards. In the near future, it will be able to read coupons displayed on a customer's mobile device.
The devices will also give flight attendants more details about customers down the road, allowing them to offer more personal service, Delta said.
These device join other mobile customer service oriented devices and applications that Delta has rolled out. Last year it debuted the Fly Delta app for iPad, its delta.com website and revamped self-service kiosks. Other high-tech customer service products include Fly Delta app for iPhone, Windows Phone, Android and Blackberry smartphones, and in-flight WiFi on more than 800 aircraft.
'The New Normal'
Delta is joining what is quickly becoming a mainstream trend among service providers: applications and devices at the point of sale usually delivered via a mobile handheld or tablet.
Such applications are ubiquitous in high-end stores and restaurants and are spreading out into other service categories, David Johnson, principal of Strategic Vision, told CRM Buyer. "It is becoming the new normal for customer service."
Whether these initiatives are enough to salvage airlines' poor reputation for customer service, however, is debatable, Johnson added.
"Airlines are still viewed poorly by customers in terms of service," he concluded. "These handhelds are a step forward -- but a very small step."