Kenya Airways Fuels With Data To Lift Marketing

julie-manduAnyone who has ever stepped onto an airplane knows that air travel can bring out the best and worst in all of us. That can lead to a relationship between guest and airline best described as “complicated.”

“For me to be able to get what your needs are, to capture you as a guest and for you not to move to the competition, I need to connect to you,” said Julie Mandu-Wijenje, senior customer care manager at Kenya Airways. “So I need your data. I need your profile to be able to do that.”

But until about a year ago, that data was scattered among disparate applications at touch points across the customer journey, beginning with the reservation system through to the arrival airport. So Kenya Airways pointed its nose to the sky and tapped Oracle’s Marketing, Data, Sales and Service Clouds to streamline processes and create a 360-degree view of its customers.

“We needed to understand who our customers are and what they need for us to be able to emotionally connect to them and give them great consistent service,” Mandu-Wijenje said while attending Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco this week.

Like many brands, Kenya Airways struggled to effectively measure the ROI of its marketing campaigns. Now it can monitor customers’ digital body language once a campaign is launched and deduce a correlation to ticket sales.

Campaigns that once took three days to execute through an agency now takes 30 minutes. They are also cheaper compared to their traditional counterparts, which involved expenses such as printed collateral. Kenya Airways’ content process is now unified, managed centrally and more efficiently, and available to its entire network within a single process.

Previously, Kenya Airways couldn’t identify high-value customers, although it has had a loyalty program in place for about six or seven years. That program provided some first-party data that offered visibility into parts of its customer base.

“But not everyone is within the Flying Blue program,” Mandu-Wijenje said. “There were high-value customers that we were missing just because they were not in the loyalty program.”

The loyalty program delivered data on how frequently members flew with Kenya Airways, but now the company can track how much revenue each customer brings in. In addition to using the Oracle suite to segment high-value customers, Kenya Airways can also segment guests across the customer life cycle, giving it the ability to target a new entrant, for example, differently than a longtime platinum customer.

Its new data capabilities have enhanced its “customer intimacy,” Mandu-Wijenje said, giving the airline the ability to do things like make a note on a boarding pass to offer birthday wishes to a guest traveling on his or her birthday. A new portal has also enabled two-way communication with customer feedback that can be used to improve the guest experience.

Kenya Airways originally estimated that it would take six months to implement the Oracle Cloud suite, but so far it’s taken about a year – and counting. “It’s not as easy as we thought it’d be,” Mandu-Wijenje said.

Implementing the data hub and being able to uniquely identify guests took much longer than anticipated.

“We had data residing in different applications across the customer journey, as well as in different countries,” Mandu-Wijenje said. “Initially, we thought we could just take all the data and transfer it to the hub, not realizing that we needed to cleanse the data thoroughly to ensure it’s in a certain format and dediplicate manually before loading. This entire process was manual.”

Kenya Airways began data harvesting through Oracle Marketing Cloud, its website and customer portal. It also tried to engage guests and get data directly from them across all touch points.

“The journey is ongoing to continuously enrich the data from various sources and eventually have a segmentation model that focuses on 80/20 and 360-degree view of customers that will deliver a superior and consistent experience across the customer journey,” she said

Kenya Airways created a change management program with a lot of training to boost user adoption and tackle cultural changes.

“It’s an entire transformation from doing things manually to automated,” Mandu-Wijenje said. “For the Marketing Cloud, it’s [going] from traditional to digitization. That’s not easy, especially for the staff because we were used to do everything manually, traditionally using billboards, but not using the digital language. There is a lot to learn, a lot of content that you need to skew to certain areas, that you need to monitor at all times to be able to tag it to exact person you want for results.”

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