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You can’t argue that the biggest benefit to operating an aircraft is the ability to provide your customers with better services than your competition, whenever and wherever they need it.
Honeywell Aerospace’s Business and General Aviation (BGA) Customer Support group is taking that same “personalizing the solution” approach to the way they deliver critical operations and maintenance information to its global customer base.
“We are in constant communications with our customers, and one thing that they make very clear to us today is that they are busy,” explains Todd Owens, Honeywell Aerospace’s VP, Customer Support, Americas. “They expect any interaction with Honeywell to be fast and easy. That is the culture we are driving internally. We are committed to ensuring that every customer experience—whether it’s through our portal or on the phone with one of our field support engineers—is as quick and efficient as possible.”
Of course, no paradigm shift is easy. The company has invested countless person-hours talking to aircraft owner/operators to learn precisely what they need to improve their operations from the passenger experience through to lowering maintenance costs.
Whether it’s online, on the phone, or face-to-face, in response to customer requests, the aerospace giant has redirected its global Customer Support team to delivering the information its operators need in the forms that work best for them.
Owens stressed that everyone on Honeywell’s Customer Support team is extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to be at the forefront of changing the aviation service climate.
“The entire process has become something we are passionate about,” he says. “We’ve stepped back and looked at it from our customers’ perspective and thought about how what we do can improve their experience.”
“One of our unique tools is the ability to use what we know about our customers to get out in front of what their operations will need and find ways to get the information to them even before they know they want it,” states Megan Towne, director of BGA, Customer Support, Americas, Honeywell Aerospace. “That’s a big shift from the customers having to reach out to us. We want to be much more proactive than reactive in meeting their needs and expectations.”
“One thing we hear a lot from our customers is that it’s much easier to watch a short video on how to do something than to download and read a 24-page PDF,” Towne says. “So, along with the 8,000 or so technical articles we have in our library, we’re now posting more videos.”
Customized solutions for individual needs.
Owens says that the Honeywell Customer Support group talks to customers around the world at Customer Conferences and Global Customer Committee meetings. One thing they have learned is that when comes to how they want their information delivered, customers have varying preferences about the ideal technology/personal-interaction mix.
Some want to be able to find the information they need without having to talk with anyone. Others want the human interaction aspect. Honeywell’s goal is to offer options that will result in the best experience for each customer.
“Another way to improve information delivery is to have the right people in the right place at the right time,” Towne says. “For example, we’ve added direct-dial lines in Latin America and other regions, so customers can quickly contact an FSE (Field Support Engineer) in their region who speaks their language. We’ve already had really positive feedback on that program.”
“Having FSEs and CS engineers in the regions where our customers operate is a huge advantage to understanding the cultures and uniqueness of each one’s needs,” she says. “It makes for better interaction and helps us to deliver the best service experience.”
The right information, even if it’s not what a customer wants to hear.
According to Owens, another critical differentiator is Honeywell Aerospace’s dedication to being much more timely, accurate, and accountable when it comes to communicating essential product information directly to the customer.
“We are driving our cultural change to include a commitment to provide accurate status updates on parts, repairs, and orders, including accurate delivery dates, so that our customers at Gulfstream or Duncan Aviation or wherever they are can give their customers the information they need,” he says. “They have someone standing at their desks asking, ‘When?’
“Even if it’s not what the customer wants to hear, we’re pushing our culture to provide accurate delivery dates,” Owens adds. “We are picking up the phone and giving them what they need to know and not waiting until the part is three days past due. Customers appreciate proactive communications.”
Everything old is new again.
As much as they’d like to, not all of Honeywell’s thousands of customers can upgrade their aircraft to keep up with the latest technologies.
“We have a lot of products in the field, and as they get older, some may develop issues, or things reveal themselves over 10 years that we didn't anticipate,” Owens says. “We’ve initiated a Service Difficulties Reveal Project, where we are working with engineering to develop fixes for those issues.
“What’s really new with that initiative is that we are now contacting customers with those systems and updating them not only on what the fix will be but on when we expect it to be available,” he says. “That way, they know that we are listening to their needs and investing money to make their aircraft better.”
Towne explains that everything Honeywell Aerospace is doing is designed to make customer communications faster and easier and to bring more value to the end-user.
“We’re listening to our customers and learning where their issues are and then working collaboratively to look at what products and technologies will best solve their problems,” she says. “The key is to find the best value proposition that meets their needs and consider how it will make life easier for the pilot or mechanic.”
It all starts with the end customer.
“Whether they’re a pilot, DOM, or purchasing agent, our customers all have their own needs and expectations,” Owens says. “Our goal is to learn what those expectations are and then develop the simplest and quickest ways for them to get what they want.
Think about what we all face every day when a company's phone system or website is so complicated that using it makes your head hurt," he continues. "You're no going to do business with that company. Everything we are doing is all about making it easy to do business with Honeywell Aerospace. Because if we make it really easy and effective, customers will want to come back.”
“The company with the best overall customer experience will win their business,” Owens adds. “We’re going from thinking we know what customers want to ask them, and then delivering the solution the way they want it. Whatever works for our customers is what we want to provide.”