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British Airways plans to Google-stalk customers for a more personalized service

British Airways plans to Google-stalk customers for a more personalized service


British Airways' new customer service program will see its staff searching Google for images of patrons. It will use the images to help recognize and personally greet customers.

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British Airways is rolling out a new customer service program that will see its employees searching Google for photos of customers. BA hopes the initiative, called "Know Me," will help it provide a higher level of individual service to its clients. Staff using the iPad-based system will have access to various types of passenger data, including previous travel arrangements, complaints, meal requests, and Executive Club status. An example of how all this data will be used is for staff to proactively approach a customer that recently had a delayed flight and thank them for "their continued patronage."

How will employees recognize customers? British Airways states 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 recognize them as soon as they enter the airport or aircraft."

"We’re trying to recreate the feeling of recognition you get in a favorite restaurant when you’re welcomed."

Jo Boswell, head of customer analysis at BA, says that the airline is trying to recreate "the feeling of recognition" you get when you're welcomed back to a "favorite restaurant." The images that BA uncovers will obviously be in the public domain, but British tabloid Evening Standard claims that BA is now in the midst of a privacy storm because of its Google-searching initiative. It quotes one campaigner for privacy as saying, "since when has buying a flight ticket meant giving your airline permission to start hunting for information about you on the internet?" The airline wants to use its new system to personally recognize 4,500 customers per day by the end of the year.