The 30,000 Foot View: How KLM stays “in-touch” with customers

I have always loved flying. Now, I don’t mean just the hurtling through space in a comfortable cabin with movies, wine and dinner at my discretion. I mean everything about it—from the preflight wandering of airport bookstores and people-watching—to the in-flight blissfully out-of-time, disconnected from the world, “me time” with no chiming BlackBerry or demanding email—to my ultimate safe arrival somewhere across the globe that always has me marveling things like: “Seven hours ago I was in London, now I am in New York—that is crazy!”

How crazy that transportation across space and time is—from a sheer logistics standpoint—I never really thought about it until I began, three years ago, to manage for KLM its In touch Community of Elite flyers from the Netherlands, U.K., Germany, Norway and Sweden. Before then, I never spent much time considering how much thought goes into getting 300+ people to their destinations, on time, in comfort, fed and entertained, without incident. … But now, I arrive at the airport and ask myself, as KLM asks its members every day in the In touch Community: What does efficient boarding mean? What is important in an airport lounge? How is the food? … the seat comfort? … the entertainment? What would make me more loyal to this airline? And how would I bring innovation to the industry? Now, as I board my flight, sip my wine, eat my meal or simply watch the wheels alight on the ground of Schiphol, I can’t help but notice the details.

Charles Hageman, Research Analyst for KLM and the driving force behind the In touch Community, never forgets the details, as he meticulously ensures that Elite flyers’ answers to all those questions get funneled throughout the KLM organization, to over 200 different people across functions and roles. His next magic trick? Opening the community up to the larger Air France-KLM organization, and expanding community membership into France, Spain and Italy. I, for one, cannot wait for even more reasons to interact in the In touch …with Air France and KLM Community with fellow travelers and help guide the innovation of an industry and brand that has transported me—on time and in style—across the world.

Charles recently sat down with Tamara Barber at Forrester Research to discuss the origins and impact of the In touch Community. You can read that case study here and also watch a video below of Charles talking about the community: