The Customer Relationship Centre: a new R&D centre!

Aurélie Sutter

Innovation Lab & Consulting Director

Views and ideas

In the experiential era, brands are investing massively in the digitalisation of journeys (online and offline) with ever more innovative offers. Beyond the event strategy, how can we differentiate ourselves over time? Answering this question requires us to return to our fundamentals, to the humans we are. A strong brand is a human brand, aware of its emotional value that allows it to survive in people’s minds. This is our conviction at BlueLink.

To do this, it is necessary to switch from echo logic to resonance logic. Moving from a silo organisation to an ecosystem of skills that works in multidisciplinary teams. And above all, you have to start with the customer! Immersion, ideation, experimentation… design thinking methods respond perfectly to this resonant logic.

Starting from the customer, his reality and working in a test & learn approach

This is how the Disruption project is being carried out, in co-construction with Air France, based on the principle that the customer relations centre must be at the heart of the approach because it is in direct contact with the customer.

As the air travel industry is highly subject to risks (operational, climatic, social, etc.), irregularities are an integral part of it and have a strong impact on the customer experience. The primary objective of the Disruption project, launched more than a year ago, is to reduce the frequency of these hazards and minimise their impact on customers by improving their experience in these difficult situations. Carried out in collaboration with all Air France entities involved in customer journeys, whether on the ground, in flight or remotely, it provides real added value for customers, Air France and the BlueLink employees involved in the project.

Moving from a purely operational approach to a range of customer-oriented solutions simply requires… to start with the customer, in a service design logic. Unlike a standard approach that would have led to working “in the room” and then establishing very precise specifications to be implemented, Air France relies on a BlueLink team that tests ideas directly with customers and carries out on-the-fly feedback.

The principles of design thinking for customer experience

The first workshops started with the specific mission of responding to a recurring problem of customers offloading following a last-minute aircraft change, greatly reducing the aircraft’s capacity.

The target was clear, but the roadmap remained to be built, with a willingness to listen to all opportunities and feedback in order to constantly adjust the approach. A first design cycle (prototype and experimentation) allowed us to embark on the adventure, with daily service and encouraging initial results.

One year later, from the initial checklist, there is not much left, but the one applied today (which will not be tomorrow’s either) has proved its worth: 1000 customers avoided a last-minute landing and accepted our offer of an early flight change. There are many reasons for acceptance: flexibility, financial compensation, time savings, better adaptation to their personal organisation… Every day, field expertise and personalised relationships give rise to new situations and ideas on which to build.

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More than ever, the Customer Relationship Centre is the company’s nerve centre. It is a gold mine of information since it is the direct point of contact with customers. Even more so today than in the past because everything that is simple is automated: Customer Relationship Management becomes key to the customer experience. The principles of design thinking, which start from the customer, from his reality, must be democratised to be applied more widely in the various projects. The Customer Relations Centre becomes the new R&D centre, a real laboratory where customers and employees experience resonance through open and exciting relationships. A laboratory of relational and therefore human intelligence!