Alaska and Delta take different approaches to the all important net promoter score 

With more than 85% of its merger integration with Virgin America complete, Alaska Air Group has managed to sustain high net promoter scores during the complex merger integration process.


Summary:

  • Alaska Air Group and Delta Air Lines both appear to place a premium value in maintaining an edge in the key net promoter score customer satisfaction metric;
  • Despite the challenge of its merger with Virgin America, Alaska Air Group’s net promoter score only dipped 2ppt in 2017;
  • Alaska Airlines has subsequently seen its net promoter score rise to an impressive 66% again for the first three months of 2018;
  • Delta Air Lines’ net promoter score in late 2017 was a much lower 41.5%, but a huge improvement from the 20% the company recorded in 2011.

Alaska Air Group closed on its acquisition of, and merger with, Virgin America in late 2016. By the end of Jun-2018, the company had completed the majority of the merger integration, including the always-dicey passenger service system cutover.

Perhaps a rarity in airline mergers, Alaska Air Group’s net promoter score only dipped 2ppt in 2017 before hitting an impressive 66% again for the first three months of 2018.

“What I’ll say is we’ve seen just improved performance or a net promoter score as we’re getting through this merger,” says Ben Minicucci, president and COO of Alaska Airlines. “It’s very, very promising.”

He explained Alaska is making some refinements to its Alaska Listens programme, which is the vehicle the company uses to ask net promoter scores “to make sure it is as pure as a net promoter score question as we can”.

Alaska’s net promoter score of 66% is markedly higher than Delta Air Lines, which has been expanding rapidly in Alaska’s headquarters and fortress hub in Seattle. In late 2017, Delta’s net promoter score was 41.5%, a huge improvement from the 20% the company recorded in 2011.

In 2017, Delta was the only airline listed in Forbes’ top 15 most relevant brands, joining industry leaders such as Amazon, Starbucks, Google and Tesla.

Delta has previously stated that its ultimate net promoter score target is around 50, and that once its domestic score reached that target, the company would evaluate the cost benefits of continuing grow its net promoter metrics.

Both airlines seem determined to strike the right balance in determining how to approach net promoter scores, and each company also appears to place a premium value in maintaining an edge in this key customer satisfaction metric.