William Hoppe, Travel & Logistics Practice Leader at Intelenet® Global Services, highlights how a disastrous situation doesn’t have to result in disastrous customer experience
Spring is the time of year when many things go through change – birds migrate, days become longer, but unfortunately, the weather can become erratic and unpredictable. Following the dreadful nor-easter in March, the most recent April snowstorm was a strong contender, leading to hundreds of cancellations and delays across U.S. airports in New Jersey, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Providence. Whether disruption is caused by stormy weather or an IT glitch, travellers require care and attention from their airline or an online travel agent (OTA) to put things right – and fast.
After a chaotic spring, the summer travel period is fast approaching, bringing with it an onslaught of online vacation bookings. This places significant pressure on OTAs to ensure that things run smoothly, but if something does go wrong, they must be equipped to deal with customer concerns in an effective manner.
It goes without saying that air travel will always be subject to delays and cancellations – many of which are beyond the control of airlines. But with this comes the need for tickets and accommodation to be re-booked. Travel providers have a responsibility to respond to customers who have been affected, keeping them informed and updated about the status of their booking.
The consumer landscape in the travel industry is changing rapidly – in addition to competitive pricing, customer service is becoming a major battle ground for companies, with travelers demanding faster communication and resolution when travel plans are disrupted.
There is nothing more frustrating than when a travel provider’s website says one thing, but the chatbot, app or social media feedback says something entirely different. Customers require a single view of the situation, in order to amend their travel schedule and place future trust in the brand. Perhaps then, the biggest threat that OTAs face is the ability to successfully navigate periods of disruption, rather than the level of disruption itself.
In a brand agnostic age, concerns are aired very quickly via social media channels, which can permanently damage brand loyalty and retention. For the customer, how travel providers react in a crisis can make the difference between a dream holiday, and a nightmare one. For travel providers, a dissatisfied or content customer can make the difference between a positive or negative impact on revenue and brand reputation.
To respond to the shift in customer behavior and ever-growing demands, many travel providers are turning to next-generation technology to keep their heads above water and provide the most optimal customer experience. For instance, utilizing automation solutions can speed up the complaint process and ensure fast communication for affected passengers.
In addition, supporting and optimizing contact center staff is becoming increasingly important for travel providers. Coupling excellent in-person customer service with automation is a win-win situation for both passengers and front-line employees – customer needs are met more efficiently and accurately, while the headache of time-intensive tasks for staff – such as processing claims – can be reduced by half. Ultimately, the use of innovative technology to support staff can rapidly scale up operations in the face of high customer demand.
By putting in place best practice communication systems, which can fast track the claims calculations process and keep customers updated, the proliferation of negative sentiment on social media can be avoided alongside keeping the customer engaged. By making the most of automation solutions, travel providers are able to manage a higher volume of complaints more efficiently – streamlining the process by 60 percent – and can be empowered to continue to survive and grow in competitive market conditions.
Over the upcoming summer period, travel providers will be eager to steer clear of public disputes. Investing in new technology can make travel disruption as pain free as possible for both customers and customer service teams. Keeping customers content during times of trouble can be easily achieved if companies automate their back-end systems and stay abreast of multiple channels to provide customers with the information they require and deserve.
What travel providers do once delays and cancellation occur is the true differentiator between competitors, and so they must cater to customer expectations in their hour of need. By harnessing the power of technology and having trained staff on hand, travel providers will be able to navigate through busy periods and unexpected disruption all year round, leaving customers feeling valued and cared for.
William Hoppe, Travel & Logistics Practice Leader (and Vice President of Operations/Business Development) at Intelenet® Global Services.
Outsourcing / BPO / BPM – William Hoppe is a 25 year plus operations expert helping clients transform business process through efficient, creative, and elegant solutions.
About Intelenet® Global Services:
Intelenet® is a large global Business Process Outsourcing player, committed to delivering its client’s strategic goals and helping in enhancing, broadening, and deepening the relationship to add value.
Backed by The Blackstone Group, a leading Global Private Equity player, with a current portfolio of clients that includes several Fortune 500 companies, Intelenet® Global Services is a 55,000 people organization spread across 70 global delivery centers across America, UK, Europe, Middle East, Philippines and India; supporting 100+ clients in over 25 languages.
Intelenet® provides innovative, cutting-edge solutions, supporting customers across Contact Center solutions, F&A, HRO, IT solutions and security & compliance across Banking and Financial Institutions, Healthcare, Travel and Hospitality, Telecom, Retail, Manufacturing, Logistics and Utilities & Energy verticals. Intelenet® Global Service’s range of integrated BPM services deliver transformational benefits to clients through reduced costs, ongoing productivity improvements, and process re-engineering.