Imagine a business traveler whose flight has been delayed for the third time. She's going to be late to an important meeting, where she is scheduled to give a presentation. The look on her face says it all: She's frustrated and stressed. But the next time she needs to speak with someone in the airline's call center, the agent is likely to see only her name, membership number and status.

Hitit Computer Services, an Istanbul-based company that developed the Crane line of airline IT products, including Crane FF Airline Loyalty Management and Crane DCS Web Based Departure Control System, is literally putting a human face on the data provided to call center agents.

Its Crane Intelligent Member Profiles solution "paints a picture of each individual member of your frequent flyer program based on all the information you have on the customer," Mustafa Ozalcin, marketing and sales manager, said.

"It creates a visual representation of the customer." That "representation" behaves much like a Yahoo avatar. It can be configured in any number of ways to indicate, for example, the customer's gender, program tier level, flight patterns, use of program partners, and even the customer's level of satisfaction. If the program member is not a happy camper, it's helpful for a customer service agent to know that the minute the customer's call comes in, Ozalcin said.

Crane IMP is based on the principle that mere numbers don't tell the full story about a passenger's value to an airline. It aims to tackle the issue of too much data, not enough knowledge. Travelers with lots of miles "don't necessarily bring in the most revenue," Ozalcin said.

"There are hundreds of partners from which passengers can earn points co-branded credit cards, partner airlines, hotels. They can even trade points on sites like Points.com." Crane IMP will analyze the distribution of members' activities between air and non-air and among all program partners; flight patterns, home and favorite airports, and redemption patterns.

It can determine whether groups of passengers frequently travel on the same flights, even if they book their flights separately. (Obviously, that information must be treated delicately; co-travelers are not necessarily co-workers.)

Ozalcin said a major goal of Hitit's customer relationship management products is to determine whether an airline is properly segmenting its frequent flyers, thereby getting the most bang for its buck out of marketing campaigns.

"An airline should be able to create multiple campaigns and provide promotions and opportunities that are of interest to the traveler," he said. "If you are consistently not taking an airline up on its promotions, it's probably because you are not segmented correctly," Ozalcin said.

One customer can be in multiple segments, he noted. A U.S.-based female business traveler can also be a U.S.-based female beach lover. Hitit's loyalty management system allows the airline to compare a member's response to marketing campaigns with that of other members in the same segment.

Frequent flyer programs are just beginning to scratch the surface of their power, Ozalcin said. "It's not all about the points," he said. "It's about the person."