Air Canada

Smarter Planet Leadership Series Video: On a never-ending push to make life simpler for the customer

Published on 17-Jan-2013

Air Canada

Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:

Mobile, Smarter Planet

Smarter Planet:
Leadership Series, Smarter Transportation


Air Canada has come a long way in its self-service journey, and Patrice Ouellette has been there from the beginning. Under his leadership, Air Canada’s “Innovation Team” has sparked a number of firsts in the industry, including the placement of “offsite” kiosks outside the airport.

How Accomplished:
Beneath Air Canada’s leading self-service capabilities is an equally innovative technology strategy that consolidates all self-service channels to enable a seamless customer experience. It was on this foundation that Air Canada launched its latest industry first – the delivery of proactive travel services via iPhone® and BlackBerry® mobile devices. Relying on rules-based intelligence, the solution delivers notification messages that are always up to date.

Leadership is...thinking differently. Change happens a lot in the airline industry, and it’s often driven from outside forces. Air Canada’s strategy is to continually look at industry dynamism as an opportunity to simplify the customer’s experience. “While we’re under constant pressure to reinvent the way we operate, it also gives us a chance to assess whether we can do something totally differently.” — Patrice Ouellette, Director of Customer Solutions and Innovations, Air Canada

Lessons Learned:
Change requires distance. For the Innovation Team to be a successful change agent, it needs to maintain a degree of separation from the operational areas within Air Canada. “We need people who instinctively and passionately think outside the box—who know the airline’s day-to-day ways of doing business, but are not stuck in it. It’s important [for the Innovation Team] to think from a different perspective and to keep asking why.” — Patrice Ouellette

In addition to fitting in with customers’ increasingly mobile lifestyle, the solution enables Air Canada to process transactions such as check-ins 80% more cost effectively than those done at the customer service counter.

- Approximate 80% reduction in per-check-in cost compared to traditional counter check-in process; - Increased customer loyalty by virtue of more compelling and “stickier” self-service options like real-time notification; - Greater than 50% reduction in time required to launch new services or channels through the reuse of existing service assets; - Reduced paper costs; - Improved quality of customer service; - Increased customer service productivity


Smart is ... innovating the customer travel experience. Interviewee: Patrice Ouellette, Director, Customer Service and Innovation, Air Canada

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Kiosk

WebSphere Application Server

IBM Global Business Services