CMO Tim Mapes: How Delta Air Lines Finds and Fixes Problems in the Customer Journey

Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden
August 18, 2017

With 4,000 planes taking off from over 300 airports around the world every day, Delta Air Lines aims to ensure that the experience it provides for its customers makes them feel like one in a million, rather than one of a million. Delta Air Lines CMO, Tim Mapes, sat down with Hot Topics to discuss how the company organizes itself to achieve this.

Catch the full interview with Tim Mapes here.

When it comes to improving experiences, Tim explains, it’s imperative to have visibility into how customers interact with the brand. Equally as important, but perhaps less talked about, it’s crucial for businesses to organize themselves in such a way that makes it easy to action and implement any learnings from this visibility.

The operations at Delta Air Lines, for example, operate vertically. Be it in-flight services, flight operations, airport customer services, or digital offerings like reservation sales online: departments are siloed off from each other.

Customers, however, experience these services horizontally: they wake up, check in online, go to the airport, use digital services in the lounge, board the plane, and so on.  Tim describes this as the customer ‘travel ribbon’.

In order to account for the disconnect between the vertical function of each department and the customer travel ribbon, the analysis function at Delta is set up to function horizontally, too.

“We set up marketing and the product group – which serve as the eyes and ears of customers – to operate horizontally: as the customer experiences Delta,” Tim explains.

This enables the marketing team at Delta to follow the customer journey and work closely with each deparmental vertical along the travel ribbon. As soon as an issue arises – be it online or off – they can immediately work with the relevant department.

“We can go to those vertical operating units,” Tim says, “and say ‘hey, this is how each piece of the puzzle fits together, and this is what we’re learning from our customers'”.

With this set up, Tim is confident the teams at Delta can hone in on and ease customer frustrations as efficiently as possible – from in-airport services to digital offerings like online check in and reservations – and consequently make solid, steady progress towards their goal of making customers feel like one in a million.

Be sure to keep up the with the Hot Topics Great Expectations series – in partnership with Decibel Insight – to see CMOs from the world’s top brands discuss how they measure and improve customer experiences.

The next interview is with Dell’s VP of Business Transformation, Erin Kurusz. Request a reminder to watch the live broadcast here.

Topics: Customer Experience, Hot Topics
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