Virgin Atlantic: What’s the point of having data when you can’t do anything with it?

Virgin Atlantic has restructured its marketing team to allow for better collaboration and to ensure data no longer sits in siloes.

The use of data has become “much more important” since the onset of the pandemic, according to Virgin Atlantic’s chief digital and marketing officer, Siobhan Fitzpatrick. But in order to be truly useful the airline had to rethink the way it was structured.

The problem previously, she said, talking at the Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward yesterday (7 June), was that data often sat isolated in different teams, which meant it wasn’t easily accessible.

“Historically, there have been lots of pockets of data sitting in siloed parts of organisations. What Covid has definitely reinforced, because of the need to take information and action it quickly, is a need to join that data up…and have the insight that comes out of it. Because what’s the point of having data when you can’t do anything with it?”

In order to make best use of data, Fitzpatrick said Virgin Atlantic had to set itself up differently and ensure teams responsible for devising end-to-end customer journeys “sit in one place” to allow for closer collaboration.

“[We had to] understand what it takes as a culture and as an organisation to become truly agile and truly responsive and work. Because of Covid, we have to work in much smaller teams but to be able to work much more cross-functionally, take what you’re learning from customers and make everything happen very quickly,” she said.

“Organisations realise now that’s the future and that’s the way in which customers are going to expect to engage with us.”

This has helped the airline create a single customer view, which she said is now one of the biggest drivers for the airline.

“To understand the lifts and drags in that experience. To think about the voice of the customer journey, right from the moment when a customer is starting to think about travel, all the way through to when they get off the plane at their destination [is critical],” she said.

Virgin Atlantic analyses data in real-time, an example being how it will capture a moment when a customer has a poor experience and immediately ensure the same problem does not arise on the return journey.

“That’s been absolutely critical for addressing that single experience touchpoint a customer has. We’ve got visibility of all of that [customer experience] and ultimately that will start to impact and drive your NPS scores, your preference scores, love and consideration,” said Fitzpatrick.