API Business Models

How APIs Drive Innovation Through Customer Centricity


The Business of APIs: How APIs Drive Innovation Through Customer Centricity at the Air France KLM Group

The airline group that includes KLM, Air France, and low-cost carrier Transavia aims to become the most customer-centric in Europe. There are a lot of steps involved with air travel, and Air France-KLM wanted to streamline and digitize the business processes on the one hand to improve the customer experience and on the other hand to align all the different customer-facing front-ends, such as Air France and KLM websites, mobile apps, kiosk applications, and social media. Via API-led customer-centric strategy, we could connect our vast environment of applications and data to provide our partners, our own developers, and first and foremost end-users with a seamless experience and the business with the ability to adapt in an agile manner. Most importantly, our business strategy and API strategy got aligned. Our API’s are underpinning the customer journey. Every step of the journey is made less stressful because it has an API helping to improve a difficult process. Hence, customer centricity is made explicit via our API strategy of opening up and ensuring API’s are making the traveler’s life easier.

Business and API strategy alignment

 The results of this alignment speak for itself:

  • More than 20% Increase in Net Promoter Score
  • Over 80% faster go-to-market time for new features
  • 4+ Star average rating from users of its mobile apps
  • Enhanced rewards options for loyalty program members

 This API-first strategy has increased Air France KLM Group’s net promoter score, which means the group’s mission of being the most customer-focused is on the right track. Where we try to stand out, especially in Europe, is to be the most customer-centric carrier with the best network from our home bases to bring our people to the other side of the world and create memorable experiences.

We make sure all of our customer processes are delivered via APIs and make any necessary changes within the API. That way, all customer channels are profiting from faster innovation. By connecting those channels via APIs, our company can make one change and it will update several customer and partner channels without additional updates to those individual platforms.

Delivering digital capabilities faster

Connected systems and API management help Air France KLM Group deliver digital capabilities much, much faster. It can iterate on capabilities and offerings without dealing with backend complexity. This means that digital product teams can ideate, implement, and go-live with new digital services for customers and partners in rapid fashion using APIs. One example includes a digital compensation voucher, where the customer can easily update their boarding pass to become scannable at the airport’s shops for a free drink or snack in case of a flight delay. Furthermore, several ways of personalization are applied to deliver the best service at the right place and at the right time. This can be an easy prefill of a preferred payment method in the flight booking flow or a passport in the check-in flow, but also a personalized ancillary offer, combining, for example, a seat upgrade with lounge access for a reduced rate.

 Air France-KLM has been taking advantage of the collaboration API’s afford, both within the company and with outside partners. There are dozens of teams developing and managing APIs across the airline group, and they are working more closely than they did in the past to bring new ideas to the table, faster. We think our API ecosystem is an innovation platform with which we can, first of all, deliver the best customer experience, but also deliver value very fast and open up to everyone interested.

 APIs also make it easier to do business with partners because they make it easier to connect with partners, as well. The group’s loyalty programs are accessible to partnering companies, such as hotels or transportation services—and vice versa—meaning members can utilize any of them and earn additional miles or points. By collaborating with businesses in related industries and via the API ecosystem, Air France KLM Group is able to drive innovation, deliver fast value, increase their reach and broaden customer loyalty, an approach we are very excited about.

Stijn Bannier
Stijn Bannier is digital product manager Open API for the Air France KLM Group. In his job he combines strategic consultancy, business analysis, qualitative research and project management of new media, digital business concepts, mobile technology and travel. Focusing on the business of API’s, Stijn strives to improve, facilitate and promote the internal and external consumption of the Air France KLM Group’s Commercial API landscape.

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