Customer expectations shifting tailwinds in support strategy

The airline industry is no stranger to competing on customer experience. As convenience and low-cost fares continue to lure away once-frequent flyers, airlines have introduced customized solutions and perks for passengers in an attempt to reengage customers. For All Nippon Airways (ANA), creating a seamless customer service and support experience became an essential building block for its overall flying experience.

To provide customers with a superior and unified service experience across all its digital channels, ANA is evolving its call center to a customer engagement center using Salesforce Service Cloud and IBM Services® as their first step in its digital transformation.


Customer engagement center taking flight

"Until now, the ANA Group used the term ‘reservation center’ or ‘call center’. Over the last few years, we have realized how much the contact center plays an important role with customers —  it is an extension of our brand and our marketing, and the basis for how we communicate with our customers each day," said Takeshi Sasaki, leader of the Sales Support Planning Team, Business Promotion and Marketing at ANA.

With four locations throughout US and Japan, ANA's contact center receives an average of more than 20,000 inquiries a day, and is a critical communication touchpoint for flyers. ANA examined each aspect of customer interaction across its support channels to augment service features to ensure each customer concern was heard and routed to the appropriate support agents.

"The system we used before took time and cost to add new channels and service tools to diversify customer contact channels. Our locations were not integrated, nor were the mail and telephone systems — so information such as customer contact and flight history were dispersed. We realized it was necessary to build a new foundation that could integrate with new technologies quickly, while seamlessly integrating with customer contact history," said Norihisa Fujimoto of ANA’s Digital Transformation Office Service Platform Department.

IBM worked with ANA to build a solution that would centralize and track customer feedback. With Salesforce Service Cloud, ANA was able to unify its four global contact centers and move to a seamless, omnichannel support environment that provides all service agents with a complete, up-to-date view of the customer.

“We had to consider the size of the project and the time we had to implement a new system. To minimize risk and maintenance, we chose a cloud-based environment where we can leverage the benefits of the Salesforce platform, which allows our technicians and users access to the newest features and current information, regardless of geography,” said Yoichi Kamikawa, project director of the Next Contact Center Project at ANA Systems Co., Ltd.

ANA and IBM have built a system for part of the contact center with Watson Speech to Text in order to visualize the conversations among the customers and operators so they can gain new insights from the information. In its next phase, ANA will implement Watson Discover to optimize the conversions of customer inquiries and provide service agents with the best information to help solve service inquiries to improve work efficiency and customer satisfaction.


Connecting to customers when it matters most

ANA continues to innovate and refine its digital customer support and service strategy. While creating new services for its customers, it also has experienced improved employee productivity. 

Even in times of uncertainty and concern during the emergence of COVID-19, ANA’s new system was able to handle the rapid surges in customer inquiries.

"Since we had unified customer data, we were able to deeply understand each customer’s concerns and make accurate suggestions and guidance. We were able to create a smooth, coordinated response when some clients had to contact us via email since it was difficult to connect through the phone while the number of inquiries increased dramatically. This was possible because we knew how each customer communicated through other digital channels from the unified customer data,” said Yumiko Toda, leader of the Sales Operations Support Team Office, at ANA Telemart Co.

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