Customer Satisfaction Levels Drive Brand Loyalty at Delta

Delta CEO Ed Bastian is extremely proud of his company’s customer satisfaction levels that drive brand loyalty.

“It is our reliability and great service that have allowed us to improve customer satisfaction levels,” Bastian said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday. “Our strong customer satisfaction is why we are able to sustain our 109 percent revenue premium to the industry, and we never take that customer satisfaction for granted. To our customers, we apologize for the disruption to their schedules. These events always provide fertile ground for learnings and how to minimize these disruptions in the future, and we are actively engaged with our team on making significant improvements to our crew tracking and scheduling processes, as well as our customer information systems. I want to thank the Delta people for working through some incredibly tough conditions to take care of our customers and get the operation back on track.”

Bastian, who noted that Delta doesn’t intend to sell off any part of its loyalty program to a third party, referred to the company’s loyalty program as “the relationships we have with our most important customer.”

While it took longer to arrive at this point, Bastian noted, “we are back to positive unit revenues and expect the revenue recovery to gain momentum as we move forward. This puts us back in the position of generating the top line growth necessary to offset the cost pressures we face and produce margin expansion in our business over the long-term. Nevertheless, we remain committed to keeping our capacity capped at 1 percent for the year as we believe this will help firm unit revenues and get us through this year on better footing and on the path to achieving our long-term financial goals. Next month marks our 10-year anniversary of the completion of our restructuring and re-listing on the New York Stock Exchange.”

Earlier this month, those customer satisfaction levels were severely tested when Atlanta-based Delta canceled approximately 300 flights in the Southeast due to a thunderstorm that hit the area. Typically, Delta has about 1,000 peak-day departures a day from Atlanta.

Flights at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were significantly delayed due to the thunderstorms, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Bastian sent a message to Delta customers impacted by the severe thunderstorms.

“Last week, severe weather and tornadic activity at our Atlanta hub caused a major disruption in our flight operations and your travel plans,” Bastian wrote. “Our response in the days following was out of character, and I am sorry for what you experienced. It was an accumulation of events that began with unprecedented severe weather in Atlanta on April 5th, when seven storm cells, including tornadic activity, passed over the airport and shut down our operation for much of the day. Our recovery was hampered by a lack of available seats resulting from heightened spring break travel volume, as well as an inability of our crew-tracking systems and processes to adequately position our people to do their jobs. I have heard from many of you who feel like we let you down. In acknowledgment of what you endured, a travel voucher in the amount of $200 will be issued for each ticket impacted in your reservation. You will receive your credit voucher via this email address by May 1st. Thank you for your patience. We will continue to review all aspects of this disruption and develop a plan to avoid a similar situation in the future, ensuring we deliver on the reliability and service you expect and deserve from Delta.”

Bastian said that there are four key pillars that have driven customer value that Delta will leverage now and in the future.

“First, running the best airline in the industry, a safe, reliable, customer-focused operation, which is made possible by the very best people in the industry,” he explained. “Next, enhancing our brand by investing in the products and services that customers value, that’s what drives our revenue and brand premium with strong customer loyalty creating a more durable top line. Third, becoming a truly global airline on which we made important strides this quarter, successfully completing our tender offer that will result in a 49 percent ownership stake in Aeromexico, and we expect to formally launch our transborder Mexican JV later this month, and we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a Transpacific joint venture with Korean, which has been a great partner of ours in North Asia for more than 20 years. This step will significantly enhance our strategic division across Asia and I believe is a real game-changer.”

What’s more, Bastian noted Delta’s “fundamental change” to its business model “as we now truly compete on quality and service, not just price. That’s what successful consumer product and service companies do.”

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