Delta Customer Service Taking Off With Microsoft Dynamics for Retail

By Michael Griffiths

Michael Griffiths is Global Managing Director, Retail and Distribution for Microsoft Dynamics

With up-to-the-minute information at their fingertips, consumers today are savvier and more demanding than ever. They want the best deal, the best experience and a real relationship with their favorite companies.

For companies in the highly competitive airline industry, those customer interactions are paramount, especially if you can differentiate from the competition.

Today we’re excited to announce that Delta Air Lines will be offering a new in-flight customer experience designed and developed by Avanade on the Microsoft Dynamics for Retail mobile point-of-sale platform and running on Nokia Lumia devices powered by Windows Phone 8.

Delta’s move to a Microsoft-driven solution is part of a continued investment in technological innovation that will see a significant upgrade in cabin equipment transforming the in-flight experience and bringing flight attendants closer to the company’s 160 million plus customers per year, including 90 million frequent flyers.

With more than 700 aircraft flying to more than 300 destinations in over 60 countries, Delta will also benefit from new ways to understand and analyze all of those customer interactions in near real-time across 5,800 flights per day.

The company decided to make the move after running into significant challenges with the limitations of its legacy point of sale devices. Yes, they could capture transactions for food, headphones and duty-free items. But they were bulky. They had to stay on the plane. They were costly in terms of maintenance. Information had to be uploaded from them manually. They did not have high-speed wireless connectivity. There simply wasn’t a lot of additional value they could drive beyond basic, transactional interactions, and even those were suboptimal. In an era when a company’s brand is so closely tied to how it uses technology, the company was in need of a transformation.

Delta’s list of must-haves came together with Avanade’s Mobile Airline platform utilizing Microsoft Dynamics for Retail and the sleek, modern hardware platform based on Nokia’s popular Lumia 820 device. Delta officials were so impressed with the pilot implementation of this solution that they are kicking off full implementation with more than 19,000 of the devices this year with thousands more to be added down the road.

The mobile application that’s providing the foundation for all this, Microsoft Dynamics for Retail mobile point-of-sale, allows the airline to not just capture transactions, but also develop tremendous insight into the customer. Together with Avanade’s Mobile Airline Platform, the application provides a unique view including historical data, past flight history, loyalty status and more. Because the devices are running Windows Phone 8, they can integrate seamlessly with back-end software and services on the Windows 8 platform.

From an operational standpoint the devices can be managed through Delta’s headquarters in Atlanta, making it much easier to validate transactions, which will dramatically speed up in-flight processes.  Avanade has integrated the solution into Delta’s operations and will provide ongoing support, maintenance and solution enhancement for the next three years.

With Microsoft Dynamics for Retail and Windows 8, enterprise manageability is a specific strength and security is enhanced. It takes care of payment compliance for PCI and other standards — challenges that a company writing proprietary software would have to face itself. For Delta, this solution eliminates cost and complexity.

While there are clearly several avenues for the company to benefit from this program, the real driver for Delta is the opportunity to build stronger relationships with customers. In an industry where customer interactions and relationships are critical, Delta has been a leader for decades. In fact, Delta was recently named by Fortune magazine as the most admired airline worldwide in the 2013 World’s Most Admired Companies airline industry list, earning the top spot for the second time in three years.

With this solution built on Microsoft Dynamics for Retail, Delta’s ability to understand and serve their customers will soon be cruising at an even higher altitude.

Find out more about the Microsoft-Avanade airline solution here: