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Kenya Airways Reads Customers' 'Digital Body Language'

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Chris Diaz, chief marketing officer of Kenya Airways, said the airline turned to Oracle to automate its marketing, sales, and customer service activities. PHOTO | FILE

Chris Diaz, chief marketing officer of Kenya Airways, said the airline turned to Oracle to automate its marketing, sales, and customer service activities. PHOTO | FILE 

By ROB PRESTON, ORACLE

Posted  Wednesday, April 6   2016 at  17:32

Kenya Airways knew that if it was ever to achieve its goal of becoming not only Africa’s leading airline, but also a shining example of progress on the continent, it had to gain a more complete, individualized understanding of its customers.

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“We didn’t know who our guests are,” recalls Chief Marketing Officer Chris Diaz, who also serves on the board of Brand Africa, an “intergenerational movement” to create a positive image of Africa and drive its competitiveness.

Kenya Airways, the country’s flagship carrier since 1977, ranks fourth among Africa’s airlines in terms of seat capacity, with a fleet of 45 aircraft covering 62 destinations.

Its market opportunity is huge: Africa’s current population of about 1 billion is on pace to reach 1.5 billion within a decade, with a rapidly expanding middle class in many countries. But so are its challenges.

Much of that population growth will be in Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the world’s least developed regions. Meantime, internet and mobile communications penetration is inconsistent across the continent, limiting the airline’s technology reach.

Chris Diaz, chief marketing officer of Kenya Airways, said the airline turned to Oracle to automate its marketing, sales, and customer service activities.

Nevertheless, as the only African airline in the SkyTeam Alliance, whose 20 members include AeroMexico, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Korean Air, Kenya Airlines knew it had to up its technology game, as it had a “very high global standard” to live up to, Diaz says.

Before embarking on a multiyear program to automate—as well as integrate the data collected from—its marketing, sales, and customer service activities, it had been operating in the dark.

It didn’t know who clicked on its batch-and-blast Outlook email campaigns. It had no clear view into what its sales reps in different offices were doing.

It was advertising mostly on billboards, in newspapers, and on flyers, with no way to measure the effectiveness of those campaigns.

And because it had no single repository for customer data, it didn’t know the preferences, special needs, or other personal characteristics of its aforementioned “guests,” who range from commercial traders, business executives, and government officials to students, missionaries, and medical tourists.

All of its customer data, much of it duplicate, was sitting in spreadsheets and databases in various company and partner travel-agent offices, so there was no coordinated way to analyze and report it.

One example of the dysfunction: Each May the airline would blast a Mother’s Day greeting to most every customer in its scattered databases, to which many of the non-mothers inevitably responded: Was this email really meant for me?

Kenya Airways turned to Oracle for help. It first engaged with consultants in Oracle’s Marketing Cloud Success Program to rationalize its marketing organization, and define modern skills, roles, and business requirements—all while cutting costs and learning how to go to market faster, Diaz says.

That consultation laid the groundwork for the first technology phase of Kenya Airways’ automation journey: deployment of Oracle Marketing Cloud in late 2014.

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