2014 has been a good year for Delta Airlines. In a previous blog post, we talked about Delta’s outside-the-box changes in its business model, such as the purchase of its own oil refinery, which helps the airline control fuel costs and boosts profitability.
In January, the airline announced a record-making profit for 2013, with the highest profit-sharing payout in the company’s history. In February, they were named to FORTUNE’s list of Top 50 Most Admired Companies for the first time. Stock prices have climbed since the company’s reintroduction to the S&P 500 last fall, and this June the company reported 9 percent in top-line growth, a reduction in net debt, and increases in benefit plan funding and shareholder dividends.
So how did Delta create such a turnaround in profit after a decade that included a bankruptcy in 2005, a delicate merger with Northwest Airlines, and more?
In short, Delta CEO Richard Anderson’s increased focus on innovating the customer experience appears to have contributed to Delta’s chart topping success. In 2010, the airline planned to invest $2 billion to revamp its customer service, from renovating planes to adding entertainment options to sending agents to a revamped customer service training program.
This commitment customer service is paying off in spades just a few years later. According to the 2014 Airfare Watchdog Best U.S. Airlines report, Delta was the overall winner. The airline came in first place for the fewest canceled flights and in second place for on-time arrivals, a rating that was echoed by the government’s recent report on airline performance, according to Businessweek.
It can be difficult in any organization — especially one as large as Delta — to manage change effectively. At Insigniam, our approach to managing change requires innovative leadership to help address the problems at hand in a unique fashion and deal effectively with key dynamics in order to generate Breakthrough Results along the way.
Anderson has shown time and time again that he’s up to the leadership challenge, pushing projects like Delta’s JFK terminal, which was designed to help lessen customs wait times and streamline processes in order to reduce customer frustration.
He also created partnerships with popular airlines such as Virgin Atlantic to help increase passenger share, especially on European routes, and steered the company away from the larger, pricey airplanes to focus on smaller planes with better efficiencies.
In an increasingly competitive industry, Delta is recording historic numbers thanks to innovative leadership that is unafraid of creating new pathways to success. By focusing on the customer experience, the airline is creating the kind of Breakthrough Results that you can only see from a series of well-managed changes.