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Airlines Take Flight with Customer Identity

Customer identity is nothing new to airlines. Since the beginning, airlines have harnessed customer data to drive their frequent flyer or membership programs, engaging users to retain their loyalty and business.

Airlines, like many other organizations, face a very common challenge of data fragmentation. With the proliferation of digital applications to service their passengers via frequent flyer loyalty programs, reservation systems, mobile apps and recommendation engines, it has become challenging for carriers to get a single view of customer identities, and to have their user profiles persist across the digital network.

As with many other businesses, the registration and login process is the turnstile to the stadium of available services.  To mitigate impact on the customer experience, this process must be as simple, easy and secure as possible.  For example, whilst the use of the frequent flyer number to login passengers has its place, this can cause inconvenience to the customer.

Here at Gigya, we are observing demand to give a “frictionless” experience for airline passengers by linking their existing membership or frequent flyer ID’s to a social media account or one-time PIN, removing any barriers for members to access their profiles for research or purchase.

By doing this, passengers not only have the ability to stream their favorite media, but also save their preferences for seats, food, and playlists in real-time on every flight. A customer’s preference is key. Airlines that adopt transparency to collect, manage and utilize these preferences through every stage of the digital customer journey will achieve new levels of customer engagement.

But why stop on board the flight or on the website? Through customer identity management, airlines have an opportunity to immediately personalize their passengers’ experiences upon arriving at the airport using Wi-Fi or beacon technology. This experience can then translate into the lounge, onto the plane, then at the destination airport.

As with any cutting edge technology, there is a certain level of responsibility and, of course, regulations to deal with. Airlines understand the value, they understand the opportunity, and they are now tangibly dealing with security requirements for transporting this data globally.

Specifically, this means coming up against regional data residency requirements. With many loyalty programs available to members across the globe, managing identity at scale will soon have great impacts on the ways organizations capture and store their passengers’ and members’ data. And, this is very much on the horizon with the European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and China’s new cyber security law.

Finding the right technology and the right strategy to manage this data is as important and impactful to the business as the customer experience itself.

By Luke Coley

Gigya has updated its Privacy Policy as Gigya, Inc. has been acquired by SAP America, Inc. and Gigya has updated the information regarding how we collect and use your Personal Data. You can see the updated Privacy Policy here.