Delta: Red Coats, Consumer Loyalty and Commitment
by Derek Linsell on 7/12/2011
When you think of Delta’s red logo, what comes to mind? A great flight experience or that obnoxious flight attendant and a lost bag? For service-oriented companies like Delta, the intangible products of service and experience drive profitability. With Delta’s acquisition of Northwest Airlines in 2008, they are now the world’s largest commercial airline carrier. Their standing in the industry gives them the positioning to provide a new standard in service.
It has been three years since the merger, and many of their policies and procedures have discrepancies both for employees and customer service. In 2010, Delta had the highest rate of customer complaints including issues of canceled flights and baggage mishandling. The likely causes of these customer service problems stem from employee dissatisfaction and a post-merger culture ignored the importance of service-orientation.
Delta invested $2 billion to support initiatives that improve the customer experience. One significant stride has revolved around the revitalization of their Red Coat program. Red Coat employees are responsible for “on the ground” customer service representation equipped with technology to instantly print boarding passes or other vouchers. For employees, this program creates new positions and authorization to improve customer satisfaction with tangible measurements.
These investments are starting to pay off, as Delta’s overall airline quality rating score has improved since 2010. Customer satisfaction scores for 2011 place Delta around the industry average, which is an improvement for the airline post-merger but a far cry from their golden days of customer excellence. Creating a service-orientation image that differentiates Delta from the market competition will be integral in re-building their brand.
Delta’s senior vice president of customer service, Gil West, says “we realize we’ve got to invest in the human element as well. … One of our key objectives is to continue to improve our customer service. The bringing back of the Red Coats for Delta is very symbolic of that.” Initiatives like the Red Coat program sit at the forefront of entwining customer service to the employee representatives they interact with, thereby, establishing a Delta brand that will inspire loyalty and recognition the next time you see their red logo (or coats).
At Apricot, we believe that real service extends beyond the customers online for a flight, but to the employees and to the community at large. According to CSR wire, Delta’s last published CSR report was in 2007. Can they work to serve all three? Time will firstname.lastname@example.org