Inbox Insider: Airlines ease flying with e-mails for CRM

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I've been flying a lot this month, both for vacation and business, and e-mail updates for upcoming flights have made the experience smoother.

About 24 hours before each flight, I've received an e-mail reminder telling me that my departure is the next day and asking me if I'd like to check in or change my seat. As someone who always uses e-tickets, I appreciate having this e-mail at the top of my inbox, so that, while at the airport, I do not have to dig through a month's worth e-mails from when I booked the flight.

An e-mail I received this week from Virgin America also includes useful information about the in-flight experience. There is a link to learn more about how to use Wi-Fi on board, as well as links describing the food available during the flight and the airport lounge. In addition, there is some information on new checked baggage fees, so that I won't be surprised at the airport. This is a great example of using a transactional message as a marketing message, by upselling services for today's flight.

On a flight that I took a couple of weeks ago, the e-mail was integrated with an automated phone call. First, I got an e-mail letting me check in online. This was followed by a phone call, informing me that the plane was running 10 minutes late. Talk about great integration.

These are both great examples of using e-mail as a CRM program, and building the relationship before a consumer interacts physically with the brand.

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