Transforming Customer Experience with Partners: The Art of Not Going It Alone

My hunch is you are one of the more than 4 billion people who flew out of an airport last year. Generally maligned as a “necessary evil,” the media has been awash with traveler nightmare stories highlighted by the bloody images of Dr. David Dao as he was forcibly escorted off a United Flight to Louisville.

Given this context, it might surprise you to find I am doing a three-part series on an unexpected customer experience hero from the air travel world – an airport that has gone “all in” to create an elevated travel environment. Please view this as less a “highlight reel” of the customer experience accomplishments of the featured airport and more as an example of how brands (some in seemingly unlikely sectors) can create a comprehensive roadmap to customer (or in this case traveler) experience transformation.

Our Example

The airport that this series will highlight may be unfamiliar to some of you. It certainly doesn’t have the name recognition of an O’Hare, LAX, or LaGuardia but it does have leadership with an entrepreneurial spirit who sought to partner with companies that could innovatively help them change their traveler experience.

Ok, ok…I’ll reveal the airport’s name. It is CVG! The airport code CVG comes from the nearest major city to the airport at the time of the airport’s opening (Covington Kentucky), but it is otherwise known as the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. This airport has been serving commercial passengers since 1947, serves 7.8 million passengers annually, and as of July had 180 peak-day flights to 61 nonstop destinations.  As the home to DHL’s North American hub, CVG is the 8thlargest cargo airport in America according to the FAA.

Leadership In Customer Experience

Some of CVG’s noteworthy accomplishments foreshadow what I will be sharing in the other installments in this series. Namely, CVG is globally recognized as a leading U.S. airport by SkyTrax World Airport Awards, was the first airport in the U.S. to install a passenger management technology that monitors and displays security wait times, and is the only airport in the U.S. to receive Safety Act Designation and Certification from the Department of Homeland Security.

In a nutshell, CVG has not only improved the traveler experience, but it has pioneered industry breakthroughs. This has been done largely by investing in areas of data collection, time management, and passenger service. Rather than relying on traditional industry consulting partners with traditional customer experience solutions, CVG boldly sought out technology start-up companies to craft “out-of-the-box” solutions.

Like So Many Other Businesses

Largely due to the challenges of the air travel industry, CVG is a learning lab for anyone who is seeking to improve their customer experience. Given its size and budgetary constraints, CVG has had to be very judicious about its customer experience improvement investments. Given its industry, CVG has had work within a highly regulatory environment while also trying to improve the life of the traveler.

Such is the case for most of the companies with whom I work. In those businesses, leaders are concerned about limited resources, experience strong pressure for ROI, and have their own industry-specific limitations or regulations.

Given CVG’s challenges, how did leaders create authentic breakthroughs for their customers and their industry? As is often the case, success required the selection of the right partner. For CVG, a significant partner on their journey was a both public-private, start-up community called Cintrifuse. While we’ll get into specifics of the partnership in future posts, suffice it to say Cintrifuse and CVG were a fit and much work was done to achieve a series of small, but transformational technology integrations.

For the sake of this blog, I ask you to consider how willing you’ve been to partner to achieve customer experience elevation and innovation? Moreover, if you’ve sought partners, how effectively have those partners:

  • Listened to your needs?
  • Defined a progressive scope of work that produces incremental ROI?
  • Offered solutions beyond “over traveled” paths of legacy consulting firms?
  • Significantly changed the way customers view your company?

As you will learn in the next two posts, Cintrifuse has leveraged their technology community to avail CVG with new and empathic approaches to traveler needs.

While you await the next installment in this series, I invite you to share your customer experience partnership needs, successes, and challenges via a call.  Please reach out to us to arrange a time to talk.

Smoke over black background

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Leave a Comment


The Starbucks Experience: Leadership Tips eBook
Elevating Care in Healthcare: Lessons from the UCLA Health System eBook
How to Win Every Customer, Every Time, No Excuses! Article