Tag: travel

27 Apr 2017
intelligent customer service in travel and tourism

How Important is Customer Service in Travel and Tourism?

As the winter slips away and the days start getting longer and warmer, your customers start thinking about summer. Whether their ideal destination involves discovering the back streets of a new city, or sipping a cocktail by the pool, ‘Are you going away this year?’ is the first question on everyone’s lips this time of year.

Travel and tourism can be difficult areas for retaining customer loyalty, with websites set up exclusively to pit brands against one another on the best deals for hotels and rock-bottom prices on flights. But is it really all about the dollars and sense? The Qubit Future of Travel Report 2016 shows that investing in customer satisfaction can be equally as important as competing on price points.

Inspiring Real Loyalty, No Cards in Sight

Many businesses in the travel industry have tried out loyalty schemes and reward programs with varied success. But did you know that 77% of these schemes fail within the first two years?

E-consultancy believe that the success of your relationship with a customer depends upon the human loyalty you can create, rather than the corporate loyalty that these schemes often engender. The way we feel about our friends, family, even our favorite baseball team or our pets, is more than points being racked up on a card.

Take a look at JetBlue. Time and time again they top the list of airlines to which customers feel loyal. And when you look at their rewards scheme, it’s all about seeing the customers as individuals.

One great example is how frequent fliers with elite status on other airlines can make the jump to JetBlue and start reaping the rewards of the premium Mosaic status immediately. JetBlue also allows for customers to donate points to a charity they feel connected to or passionately about, a great personal touch to show they understand it’s not all about dollars and cents.

With the average American signed up to 29 loyalty programs and only active in 12, this human element is more essential than ever.
When it comes to the personal side of things, big data ensures that the sky really is the limit to dazzle your visitors and create enviable customer service in travel and tourism. However, businesses need to be able to pinpoint the exact information that is both relevant and actionable from a sea of content.

The right analytics does this for you, adding to the knowledge base of information with every interaction your customers have with your business, grouping questions by trends, and extracting what you need to know and act upon from your own pre-defined business goals.
This can then be used to glean insights from, answer key business questions with, and build loyalty programs that do more than simply rack up unused points in a metaphorical drawer for your most loyal customers. You may even figure out how to build loyalty programs that your customers would actually want to be part of, that would actually (gasp!) engender loyalty!

How Can You Build Human Loyalty to Beat the Competition?

According to a recent Google report, 65% of leisure travelers and 69% of business travellers head online to research and plan their travel itinerary.
As travel is something which customers enjoy researching, creating a seamless experience on all channels is essential to encourage this human loyalty. More than half of browsing is done by mobile, so the importance of integration can’t be undervalued.

Flights and accommodation are not usually impulse buys, so it follows that customers will want to be able to pick up and put down ideas and possibilities for travel while they consider their options. This might take days or even weeks to finalize, and as a business, you want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to pick up where they left off.

Group Head of Operations at Thomas Cook, Graham Cook comments to The Guardian that their omnichannel strategy is to “make sure our customers can be served in a seamless way through whatever channel they wish – online through mobile, tablet, desktop or offline in a store or over the phone.” Customer service in travel and tourism clearly needs to follow your customer wherever they might be.

Customer Service Travel and Tourism… So, Where Were We?

Support bots are an effortless way to encourage this seamless customer experience as well as provide opportunities to grow this human loyalty which can feel so elusive to large travel or tourism companies.

Intelligent support bots can interact with your customers on every channel, from mobile website to app, and from desktop to social media. They can simultaneously handle thousands of bookings and inquiries, and have all the information at their fingertips to make customers feel heard and valued.

Not only this, but the channels on and through which bots interact with your customers are well proven to be the most successful to build lasting customer engagement. In fact, live chat has a 92% satisfaction rate for customers, while Facebook messenger comes in just below at 84%.
We don’t have to tell you that in 2017 travel agents are almost obsolete, which creates a huge opportunity, with millennials 23% more likely to travel abroad than previous generations, and expected to spend $1.4 trillion on travel by 2020. More than 80% of holidays are now booked online.

Support bots are the travel agents of the future, with the data on hand to create and manage flights and hotels, as well as entertainment and dining, or even currency and local transport. In short- they hold everything your traveler might need to bask in the five-star treatment, through the channels they want to interact on the most.

A Digital Future for Customer Service in Travel and Tourism

There have been huge digital leaps forward in customer service and travel and tourism industries in recent years. From e-passports and online check in, to Airbnb, online travel guides and tourism apps alike. But digital is more than just marketing and technology. Inspiring your customer to feel a connection to your brand starts with your digital presence and the face of your company through your technology.

If keeping on top of your big data through powerful actionable analytics, and creating a unique voice for your brand with omnichannel support bots aren’t top of your to do list-they should be.

This is keeping up with the competition on a more innate level than simply beating price points. These are measures to ensure that your organizational structure is aligned towards specific business goals for both customer engagement and bottom line success.

In short? We’re putting your business firmly back on the map.

10 Jan 2017
travel and retail customers demand self-service

Travel and retail customers demand self-service: will you answer the call?

For travel and ecommerce sites in the months after New Year’s, bringing the right kind of traffic to your site can be tricky, and making the most of it is even harder. The residual uptick in activity of holiday aftermath turns into a weight on your support staff, as visits to your site are more often to make returns and search for answers to last-minute-travel-related questions than to make new purchases or book new trips.

Address common customer service issues with self-service

In travel, the end of the holidays and the blanket of cold weather over many popular travel destinations contribute to lots of homebound families spending quality time in the living room by the fireplace. Knowing this combines with the ability to segment and intelligent tech to provide contextual, personalized answers and allow your site to make the most of visitors and impress them with facilitated self-service and targeted experiences.

In ecommerce, call centers often shed their seasonal workers and find themselves needing resources to deflect a large number of calls without the manpower. With an intelligent self-service solution that draws answers from a centralized knowledge base, customers can self-serve and agents are armed with easily-accessible, consistent information and can address problems, focus on higher-level issues, and upsell.

Will you answer the call?

2017 just started, and now is the time to make sure the year is the best one yet for customer experience on your site. With a holistic, omni-channel customer self-service solution, you increase CSAT and customer retention for a more profitable new year. When you ensure coverage across all touch-points and consistent answers with assistance on all channels, you make sure you are holding up your end of the bargain. With self-service, you are taking the fight to your competitors’ doorstep, saying “I’m covered, are you?”

Read more about creating a winning cx with self-service for travel and for retail.

05 Dec 2016
travel site call center busy for the holidays

7 Killer Tips for your Travel Site and Call Center to Navigate the Busy Holiday Season with Ease

The holiday season has this uncanny tendency of creeping up on us, leaving holiday shoppers scrambling to make last minute emergency provisions. As a consumer, you can always take care of the problem by ordering last minute gifts on Amazon and “poof,” problem solved. But as a service provider, the results of inadequately planning for the busiest time of the year can be financially disastrous.

According to Zendesk’s 2014 Benchmark report, customer service rankings dropped to their lowest during the holiday season, with the travel industry experiencing the largest -7 point drop, the most drastic in comparison to all other industries.

The impact of poor customer service on your travel site:

How does poor customer service impact customers? According to an American Express survey, 78% of customers have simply bailed on a transaction due to a poor customer service experience, and 59% of customers would be willing to switch brands just to receive better customer service. With the insane amount of travel competition out there, you definitely don’t want to risk losing a dissatisfied customer due to improper planning.

So how can customer support centers within the travel industry better plan for the 2016 holiday season?

The practical guide:

The following tips will ensure this year’s holiday call center costs and handle times sink to an all-time low, while customer satisfaction ratings soar to an all new high:

1. Plan ahead of time.

Analyze data from past peak travel seasons, so you can best estimate how many support handling agents you’ll need. You’ll want to pay careful attention to numbers such as: incoming cases, average replies per resolve, average time required to reach a resolution and tickets resolved within just a single customer support interaction.

You’ll also want to analyze which destinations were most popular, and which types of vacations required the most support, so that you can hire and train your reps accordingly. Certain destinations will require advanced training and resources, due to the high level of detail involved in the planning. For example: ski destinations require lift tickets, equipment, lessons etc. High adventure destination vacations also tend to require additional support due to the addition of: local flights, scheduling of day tours and treks, and booking of equipment and car rentals.
Analyzing and reviewing these crucial pieces of data in advance, will enable you to better anticipate call center requirements and provide customers with a quality experience.

2. Make sure you’re technically equipped.

The constant surge in tickets and inquiries can overwhelm your network and cause your system to crash – if inadequately planned for. Once you’ve reviewed last year’s numbers and have a decent estimation of this year’s incoming traffic, you’ll want to consult your IT provider and make sure your system is equipped to handle the anticipated increase in users. You’ll also want to order any additional office equipment required, such as: desktop computers, headsets, jacks and chairs.

3. Integrate a qualitative automated customer self-service solution.

According to research conducted by Forrester, 72% of customers prefer to find the answers to their inquiries themselves, rather than contacting customer support. Investing in a high quality customer support self-service solution has been proven to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty due to the self-empowerment it provides the customer with, to instantly locate the answer he seeks. It also has the added benefit of reducing your customer support team’s workload and improving the call center’s average handle times. If that’s not enough to convince you, well then there’s the average correspondence fee of $.10 per inquiry! Now there’s a win-win situation for everyone.

4. Make sure to assign the right agents to the right cases.

The more familiar an agent is with a particular destination or detail of the trip, i.e. flights, hotels, car rentals etc., the quicker he can handle the query. Make sure you’ve assessed your various agents’ areas of expertise, and be sure to forward customer travel queries to the agent who is best equipped to handle them. Doing so will save time, as well as improve the quality of your customer’s service experience. If you’re hiring extra personnel for the holiday season, be sure to forward the simpler issues to them, saving the complex ones for your better trained year ‘round staff.

5. Maintain a fun and enjoyable working environment.

Employees perform best under optimal work conditions. As a manager, you’ll want to make sure to provide them. While your agents may need to work long and grueling shifts, there’s no reason why the call center environment can’t be a cheery and exciting one. Make sure to provide all sorts of holiday perks to keep your agents happy, and working at maximum output. Invest in some basic holiday decorations, munchies and drinks. Be sure to build in joint coffee breaks for socializing, as well as rewards for achieving optimal ticket handle times, thus raising your employees’ motivation and morale.

6. Train your customer service reps to deal with difficult customers.

A difficult client calls up to complain. No suite upgrades available in their hotel of choice? That’s ok, teach your agents to soothe the customer’s ruffled feathers by acknowledging their distress and then offering a hotel of comparable standards, that does have a suite. No room left on the exact flight requested? Have your customer representatives identify with your customer’s complaint. Then reassure the caller that they’re doing the best they can, and offer them a selection of other comparable viable options. Remind your agents not to let disgruntled callers affect the quality of service they provide.

7. Provide Multi-Channel (or Better yet, Omni-channel) Support.

Each customer has their own individual preference for their preferred channel of support, when dealing with a particular issue. It’s important to be able to meet your customers wherever they’re at, be it: Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or more. You’ll want to ensure your company has a properly staffed presence across all the major channels, as well as some of the minor ones. To save time and resources, we recommend using an omni-channel customer service solution that can provide quick and instant automated responses across multiple channels.
General travel inquiries, such as popular daytime activities, dining, and tour guide recommendations tend to go through the major social channels, and the majority will receive an instant and accurate automated response via your customer service solution. This will free up your agents for some of the more complicated inquiries that tend to come in via phone and email, such as flights bookings, car rental and accommodation issues.

The importance of planning for and ensuring a quality customer service experience can be summed up in the age-old retail adage: “Customers remember the service they received a lot longer than they remember the price.” So don’t leave your planning for the last minute. Make sure the customer service experience you provide your customers with is truly a memorable one, and for only the right reasons.

22 Jan 2015
How to Win Travelers’ Next Mobile Moment

How to Win Travelers’ Next Mobile Moment

It’s commonplace today: Your customers shop and require customer service when and where they want and often in situations that require immediate attention to their needs. Take Olivia, a 32-year old web designer who finally puts her feet up after another long and stressful day. It’s 11 p.m. and Olivia grabs her tablet from the nightstand to browse through her Facebook newsfeed.   Her sister’s update startles her. Can’t wait to see Olivia this weekend for Uncle Steve’s 6oth birthday party.

“Wait,” she thinks. “I need to prepare for my trip.”

Olivia opens ThomasCook.com where she originally booked her flight. She clicks on “Manage Booking” and the screen asks for her “Booking Reference.”

Oh no!  I don’t know if I have it.

She clicks on “Help” and sees a search box “powered by nanorep.”   Olivia types in “i dont know my booking number” without caps or punctuation.  An answer appears as she types.

Thomas Cook Self Service nanorep

Perfect, she thinks. Now I know where to look.

Olivia locates her email confirmation, finds the booking reference, logs in and a few clicks later discovers that her flight from JFK to Manchester leaves at 10:00 p.m. the next evening and arrives at 9:55 a.m.  Great, I’ll have time to pack in the morning.

Remove Customer Effort

According to the J.D. Power 2014 Online Travel Agency Satisfaction Report, price may be an important factor driving customer satisfaction with online travel agencies but the highest-performing agencies excel by providing a superior website/online store experience. “If the site does not function well or provide the kind of information customers expect, they will either move on to a competitor’s website or phone the agency’s call center, costing the agency time and money.”

Olivia wants rapid, helpful answers to a variety of questions about her trip.  Will there be a meal on the flight?  How early do I need to get there?   She may not remember a login password or other personal information. Thomas Cook has an opportunity to provide easy, relevant answers that don’t require much effort.

Olivia returns to the search window and types in a question:  “is there a meal.” The auto-complete function pops in Do I receive an in-flight meal? and gives her a detailed answer with prices, meal times and the menu.

Her next question:

“how early does it get to airport.”

Olivia looks down and realizes she typed in something close to gibberish.  Nonetheless, an answer pops up:

Thomas Cook Self Service nanorep 2

It knew what I really meant to say, she thinks.

Answer Their Questions the First Time

Crafting a great customer experience includes the ability to answer customer questions the first time they ask. Recognize familiar language such as, “How does it work?” whenever, wherever and on whatever device they use.  Answering questions instantly keeps customers on the site, engenders their loyalty and delivers delight.

“Problem resolution has a substantial impact on customer satisfaction,” J.D. Power notes.  “When problems can be resolved quickly via website, satisfaction can be salvaged,” improving scores by more than 23%.

Focus on the Important Moment

In the time it takes to read this paragraph, ThomasCook kept a customer satisfied and it did so by focusing on a subtle yet important moment in the online experience:  Answering crucial customer questions instantly.  Olivia had no need to read the FAQ, send an email or call a representative (which is also the most costly and time-consuming method).

Since it deployed its search powered by nanorep, ThomasCook has seen impressive results including,

  • A 20 percent drop in contact center volume
  • A 10 percent reduction in agent interaction time
  • Meaningful lift in engagement, conversion and customer satisfaction

Do you lack the ability to answer customer questions instantly? If so, consider 5 to 10 scenarios for their behavior on your site. What questions will they have and how will they prefer to receive answers? What’s at stake for your customers and how can you help them resolve their needs? For Olivia, she not only got the information she needed, she got the peace of mind that allowed her to have a good night’s sleep and a relaxing flight to see her sister.  And that helps build repeat business.