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Fly high with the right customer contact strategy

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08 August 2016

Rhoderick van der Wyck

Blogs by author:  Rhoderick van der Wyck , Global Industry Practice Lead — Travel, Transport and Logistics, BT.

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Smart airlines know happy customers are the key to success. So they’re using their contact centres to make sure customers enjoy a fantastic flight experience.

Time to jet off on holiday.

Summer’s finally here and it’s natural that thoughts turn to jetting off somewhere fabulous. But a lot of hard work goes into making those magical memories happen. Creating an experience that fits our individual vision of how our holiday should be is difficult.

This personal experience is something airlines struggle with, and market research company Frost and Sullivan points out that: “in spite of the amount of customer information they have, airlines have not reached the level of customisation of other industries.”

So how do today’s airlines make sure the on-ground experience they deliver will match sky high customer expectations? How do you make sure that the happy holiday memories start before your passengers have even reached the airport?

Airlines belong in the cloud.

A digitally-enabled, cloud-based contact centre is the answer. It provides an information hub about the customer, letting airlines tailor their service to meet individual expectations — as other industries regularly do.

For example, once passengers have given an organisation permission to keep their personal information (including their preferences and special requests), they don’t expect to have to repeat it.

To make sure they don’t have to, airlines need to put this information into a real-time record, available to customer service representatives — no matter when and where the customer contacts the airline. This is vital to give the customer a good, seamless experience.

Sam’s travel story.

Take Sam for example. Like eight out of ten air travellers, Sam carries a smartphone. Sam’s on a train to Heathrow when a notification shows that her flight is cancelled. So she gets in touch with her airline to find out what’s happening.

Because Sam’s airline has a digitally-enabled, cloud-based contact centre, it’s easy for her to contact a customer representative. There are no time-zone-related delays, and her number is registered with the centre — so the call’s automatically allocated to a representative who speaks her language.

Because she’s anxious about the flight cancellation, Sam wants a face-to-face conversation. So she opts for a video call. Soon, she’s speaking to an empowered customer service agent, who can see, in real-time, her planned journey and customer data — including her preference for an aisle seat and vegetarian meal. The agent also has access to information about delays and cancellations, so uses all these details to proactively adjust Sam’s travel plans.

By the time Sam reaches Heathrow, she’s been booked onto an alternative flight, with an aisle seat and vegetarian meal waiting for her. And, because she opted for a face-to-face call, Sam’s feeling reassured by the personal, friendly and efficient service she received. Not to mention how quickly this potentially stressful situation was turned around.

And with this technology, there’s even the potential for premium services using proximity/tracking technologies and social media. So airlines can pre-empt customer calls, proactively provide information on flight status, baggage deliveries and customs, not to mention personalise special occasions by linking with a customer’s social media.

Smart airlines take off.

Sam’s story shows how smart airlines are using their contact centres to pull ahead in a competitive market, transforming the quality of customer interactions on the ground. A single customer record held in the contact centre underpins a fantastic customer experience.

For more great customer and communications solutions for airlines, read our new airlines and transportation white paper.