BA to roll out ‘Know Me’ initiative

British Airways has announced a rollout of its ‘Know Me’ customer service programme.

The service, which has been developed by the carrier “over several years”, includes the ability for crew to search Google images to enable them to recognise and greet passengers on arrival at the airport or aircraft.

The rollout of the initiative follows the equipping of customer service agents and senior cabin crew with iPads, allowing them to access passenger data including Executive Club status, previous travel arrangements, special meal requests and onward travel plans (see online news November 9, 2011).

Examples given by BA of potential uses for the service include crew being informed:

  • that a Silver Executive Club member is flying in business class for the first time “thereby enabling the crew member to welcome that customer and explain the benefits of the cabin”
  • if a regular traveller has experienced any issues on previous flights, such as a delay due to weather, to enable them to “go the extra mile, recognise the previous issue and thank the customer for their continued patronage”

Interestingly BA says that “The most recent advancement of the system enables the British Airways team to search Google images for a photo of specific customers, so they can recognise them as soon as they enter the airport or aircraft and proactively approach them”.

Business Traveller tried this with a few members of the editorial team with mixed results – for instance anyone trying to google this writer will see images returned of entirely different people – and it remains to be seen whether passengers appreciate having themselves googled in this way.

BA says that as it rolls out the service, it aims to be sending 4,500 personal recognition messages per day by the end of 2012, “with even greater scope for growth in the future”. The carrier has also set up a “delivery lab” to analyse the way it communicates with customers, so that “only the most relevant and interesting messages are sent to them”.

Commenting on the service Jo Boswell, head of customer analysis at British Airways said that the carrier is “essentially trying to recreate the feeling of recognition you get in a favourite restaurant when you’re welcomed there, but in our case it will be delivered by thousands of staff to millions of customers”.

For more information visit

Report by Mark Caswell

What do you think of the Know Me initiative? Have you experienced it first hand? Let us know your thoughts below, or on our forum.

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  • I think the iPads are a terrific, genuinely innovative, addition to the on board customer service arsenal.

    However, I do have a nagging concern about privacy and being able to access google images to align with a profile – and potentially see other personal info in related searches – does I think take this too far.

    A nice idea, but I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that level of personalisation. Having said that, maybe such things will become ubiquitous in the coming years, and my concerns are unwarranted?

  • iPads good.

    Giving the crew appropriate good information, great.

    Over personalisation: Bad.

    Some people don’t like to be greated by name, passenger like any other.

    Some people don’t like facts about their travel pattern being read out aloud or otherwise disclosed in the preence of others.

    If those others happen to have seen it fine, but don’t broadcast it.

  • The ipad app is really good and on a recent flight I asked a crew member to show me. Not sure how this personalisation will work – google can deliver some strange results. Maybe they could ask Executive Club members to upload a photo? I wouldn’t mind.

    I like when (on long haul flights) the purser comes and says hello, it is nice. But doesn’t always happens, so may lead to disappointment? I also like the “Hello, Mrs. O, welcome back when boarding the plane”.

    I think the idea is good, it is just a matter how it is actually implemented. Google may not be the way to go.

  • I’ve had a look at the iPads the cabin crew are using. They’re pretty neat, and the last flight I was on with my family (at the back of the bus), the purser came down and personally introduced himself. As the article says, it was like being greeted by the maitre’d at your favourite restaurant.

    Disappointingly, since BA does not offer in-flight wi-fi, the crew cannot update the app in-flight with things like up-to-date info on transfers, delays, etc. that I think would be even more useful than googling for my photo.

  • The iPads are a good idea having seen crew use them to help other passengers.

    Not sure I like the Google idea, I would rather see a consistant welcome on board rather than trying to guess what the passenger looks like.

  • I like the photo idea if it is uploaded to the Executive Club account by myself.

    Also, BA could have a section in the Executive Club account details, with some details on what we like when flying (eg first drink, food dislikes etc ), filled in by us – this could then appear on the ipads on each flight we do

  • I wonder if there will be a divide here between the younger generation, whose attitude to personal privacy is very relaxed indeed (see Facebook …) and the older generation who are still very much more reserved. I do still expect to be called by my surname and it was actually not just a shock but very unwelcome when (not on a flight but at a favourite restaurant) I was greeted by the purser using my first name.

    The problem for BA’s initiative is that, inevitably, a large proportion of their regular travellers will be more my generation than my children’s. But it is a brave idea to try and certainly different.

  • I think all the concept is amazing. Personalized service always is good (unless you are hiding form something…), even shy people liek me love to write this things but also lile to receive a welcome greeting with my name at the hotel and now in the plane. Great!! Airlines can use the data base in our frequent flyer programs, sometimes seems that they don’t read!!! Good for BA..having a “Human” touch in a digital world that we live.

  • Better idea – let me link my Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn account with my BA Exec Club membership. That way, if I’m flying with you, I can *tell* you what I look like in advance, rather than trying to second-guess me.

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