As a consumer in the information age, the average airline customer has grown accustomed to personalized, one-to-one marketing and service in many areas of life. This is possible because businesses, such as airlines, collect and retain significant amounts of data about their customers. Unfortunately, this data is often not utilized to the fullest extent. Customer segmentation and data mining enables airlines to differentiate themselves from their competitors by extending personalized offerings to customers or mitigating common travel issues when used as part of a customer-relationship-management strategy.

Imagine arriving at your favorite coffee shop while running a little later than planned in your morning commute. Inside a snaking line separates you from a triple-shot Americano espresso with two sugars and cream. You join the line, checking your watch as patrons move forward to the ordering kiosk, and silently estimate how long it will take for the barista to prepare each customer’s order, which determines how late you will be for your first meeting of the day.

Finally, it’s your turn at the ordering kiosk. Before you can give your order to the employee behind the counter, the employee asks, “Triple-shot Americano with two sugars and cream?”

Within seconds of paying for your drink, your name is called, which is odd, because you don’t remember the employee behind the cash register asking for your name. A smiling, apron-wearing barista places a triple-shot Americano with two sugars and cream into your hand. You glance at your watch ‒ you are back on schedule. While there are five other coffee shops along your route to the office, you’ll return to this one, because the staff knows you, and they care about your experience.

This is the level of personalization that will keep customers coming back time and time again to the establishments that take extra care to get to know them and make them feel special. [Read the full story in Ascend.]