Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the CX Bold Moves stories.
This year JetBlue entered the ranks of the innovators who disrupt industries. They not only imagine the future. They build it. With award winning facial recognition boarding technology JetBlue previews travel of the future to customers.
The fact that JetBlue’s facial recognition trial was named as one of the 100 greatest innovations of 2017 by Popular Science is one of the many signs the airline received about how excited the public is about innovation in the airline space. JetBlue realized customers are not just ready. They are eager to step into a world of new experiences that are personal, helpful, and simple.
So, why is it so hard to eliminate friction points on the travel journey and enable repeatable, intuitive, and empathetic experiences when we fly?
Variability is almost impossible to manage
In the book “Uncommon Service” Frances Frei and Anne Morriss lay a whole customer management process for successful brands. They present several examples of Progressive Insurance and Shouldice Hospital. Through different processes these organizations are able to select the right customers for the experiences they built. Airlines cannot do that. An airline can’t choose who to fly. Since the industry is driven by small margins, every customer flown counts.
JetBlue’s mission to bring humanity back to air travel drives the company to welcome on board anybody who would like to fly. All our products and experiences are designed with that in mind!
Integrated experiences are based on integrated technologies
The future of flying is here only if we are able to integrate virtual reality and other technologies in a meaningful way that adds value. JetBlue collaborated with JetBlue Technology Ventures and Strivr to test VR for training of maintenance crewmembers. The technology is more advanced in helping with decision making and not necessarily recreating the feeling of loading bags under the plane.
For those immersive experiences, the integration, build and scaling of the experiences is much more complex. Integrated and intuitive experiences are not hard to imagine. They are complex to create and personalize.
Somebody has to pay for it
The moment we begin scaling and implementing customer journeys that use technologies of the future, we have to build the business case and its ROI. CFOs see customer experience design projects as process effectiveness work that increases output of existing infrastructure.
Customer experience is much more than that, of course. But knowing your audience is half the battle. Regardless of whether you agree with finance, you need the funding they hold. If you list the funding and maintenance requirements for a VR or a biometric solution very quickly you will see that to extract value from future technologies, you also need other future technologies to be cheaper. We all depend on a faster network (5G, 8G, 10G?) and even cheaper storage (cloud that is free to maintain and does not hit your operating expense every year?). Until that happens, we probably will trial more and scale less.
We all share the excitement for the possibilities that new technologies like facial recognition and VR bring to us today. Some of us even venture to realize and share those possibilities with our customers. Customers have the power to add and co-design their experiences, which is really exciting, too. JetBlue used facial recognition boarding to lead the industry. That innovation was embraced by customers and that is why everyone won at the end!
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