Gogo Gears up for the Ever-Connected Passenger

VP of Customer Care Jerry Oversen sheds light on the company's plan for keeping customers engaged.
Customer Strategy

As airlines roll back their restrictions on the use of digital devices on flights, more passengers are online than ever. This offers a new opportunity for in-flight broadband service providers like Gogo to capture new customers and grow market share.

It also places more pressure on the company to provide a dependable customer experience as the space grows more competitive. 1to1 Media spoke with Jerry Oversen, Gogo vice president of customer care, about the company's customer experience strategy and product roadmap.

1to1 Media: What is Gogo's philosophy on customer experiences?

Jerry Oversen: We want every customer to be productive when they're in flight. We want them to be able to connect to the Internet, use social media, and get work done. It's critical to make sure that the experience they have rivals the one on the ground.

In what ways will you be enhancing the customer experience?
The shift has already occurred from desktop to laptop and now mobile. For us, reacting to that shift is critical to make sure the user experience on mobile is as intuitive and robust as it is on a laptop. Increasing capacity is also critical. We're doing that with two new technologies, ATG-4, which is already on 700 aircrafts and triples the capacity from our legacy technology. And coming up this year, we'll be rolling out 2Ku, which will increase capacity by 20 times. The speed that you'll get will be similar to what's on the ground.

How do you quantify the value of a good customer experience?
We determine how well we're doing by gauging the consistency of the customer experience and the responses we get. As we roll out our technologies, we're able to see the experience on one airline or one route. And through different measures we can measure latency complaint rates and other things that tell us whether we're delivering a consistent experience to customers.

From which channel do passengers mainly interact with your agents?
The primary channel is chat. Our e-commerce portal has a chat link where anytime you have a problem, you can connect through chat. Social media is also growing as a channel. We've found that customers have chosen social media in some cases as their preferred channel. And so we're very responsive to Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts.

Oracle helps us by providing a great platform for communicating with our customers while they're in the air. If you're using the Gogo Service while you're flying, you can interact with our help desk support agents at 35,000 feet going 500 miles an hour. On the ground, our agents have a tool box that sits on the Oracle platform that allows them to deliver the information they need from disparate sources back to the customer to solve their problem.

Where does your role as customer experience VP fit into the rest of your organization? Do you report to the CMO or CIO?
I report to the commercial organization, which includes marketing. The person I report to is Ash [ElDifrawi], our chief commercial officer. And part of my role within the broader organization is to help guide decisions on how we message customers and educate them about our products and services. You need someone who has their finger on the pulse of the customer and can let other divisions in the company know what customers are saying about our product.

How do you do that? Do you mainly rely on surveys?
We have a number of different ways for gathering customer information. One of the ways we do this is we're able to mine some great customer data from the Oracle platform. On any given day, we're interacting with 1,000 customers who are in flight and we share that data daily with our engineering, product, and marketing folks.

From that we can tell where the customer pain points are, and we can tell what customers want. We track complaints, the user experience-type issues and we've been able to spread that information throughout the organization to help guide decisions.

How do you address the question of who owns the data?
At Gogo, customer service is interwoven with marketing. So even though a lot of this data starts with the customer interaction, it is accessed and mined by marketing.

What's the biggest customer experience challenge leaders face today?
I think it's that you need to react quickly to rising customer demand. In our case, the biggest customer demand is fast Internet. And in our industry it's a race to provide the fastest Internet service.

What technologies will you be investing in to further improve the customer experience?
There are two main threads. The first one is consumer-facing apps like Gogo Talk and Text, which is the ability to text from your phone. Using your native text app is something we'll be rolling out in full force for 2015. The second one is Gogo Video. Delta Studio had tremendous success with the ability to buy movies that are streamed to your device. Alaska Airlines also had really good success with a similar product.

We've found that when consumers are in the air, they want the ability to stream movies and this is an opportunity for them to choose from the latest titles while they're flying. We're also focusing on the products I mentioned earlier [ATG and 2Ku]. Between these products, we'll be increasing Internet capacity by leaps and bounds and offering more services to customers as they're flying.