Multi-channel customer service in the travel sector: Are we nearly there yet?


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As a travel company, the ability to provide customers with up-to-date information anytime, anyplace, anywhere, can have a major impact on the overall customer experience. The way in which you offer this service is just as crucial.

Take for example recent research from Which?, revealing that 70% of travel companies use high rate phone numbers for their customer helplines, with worst offender, found charging 60p per minute for its general enquiries helpline.

Richard Lloyd, Which? Executive Director, said:

“Going on holiday is meant to be a pleasure but there is nothing fun about being whacked with a costly call. It’s a disgrace that people face bumper bills just to ask a question or make a complaint about their travel booking.”

The impact of a poor experience can have a devastating impact on a company’s reputation, as low cost airline Ryanair are testimony to, having being voted the worst company for customer service in a Which? poll of the UK’s biggest brands, achieving just two out of five stars in a customer satisfaction rating for knowledge, staff attitude and dealing with issues.

Compare Ryanair’s customer service offering to that of Best Western Hotels, who recently won awards at the ICMI Top 50 Companies for Customer Service 2013, in both the ‘Best for E-mails’ and ‘Best in Travel’ categories for their contact centre.

Best Western Hotels have transformed their contact centre productivity by deploying a centralised knowledge-base solution, which has helped to optimise their agents’ efficiency, significantly reducing call handling and staff training times and increasing customer first contact resolution rates.

The knowledge-base, which contains a wealth of information on Best Western Hotels – including: bookings, policies, promotions and packages – allows contact centre staff instant access to accurate, up-to-date information. This is part of a multi-channel customer service offering, including an FAQ knowledge-base on their website and Facebook page, plus an integrated live chat solution – ensuring customers receive consistent answers to their questions across all channels.

Another example of a consistent multi-channel approach to customer service is Virgin Holidays, who similarly offer web self-service via an FAQ knowledge-base on their website. In addition to this offering, they have also recently deployed their knowledge-base within their contact centre and retail stores, as part of their major high street expansion. Making their knowledge-base available to both customers, contact centre agents and staff in their new concessions and other retail outlets, helps ensure customers receive a seamless customer experience across their customer touch-points, supporting their multi-channel distribution strategy.

Understanding the customer journey and their need for information at various points along the way, from first researching their trip, making the booking, any assistance required whilst travelling, to any follow-up they may require on their return, is crucial. Making it easy for customers to self-serve and find this information themselves in the channel of their choice – without being penalised financially by being forced to resort to calling premium helplines – is key.

With the continued growth in mobile devices being used by travellers, demand and expectations for real-time information during travel disruption is also on the rise. The ability to provide customers with the latest advice and up-dates seamlessly across all channels – including mobile and social channels – will have a pivotal role in improving the overall customer experience and perception of a brand.

In order to consistently deliver a high level of customer service across all channels – knowledge management is a key factor, and whilst it’s encouraging to see that some travel companies have successfully integrated this approach into their customer service strategy, others still have a way to go…

Find out more about how Synthetix are helping leading companies in the travel and tourism sector improve their multi-channel customer service.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Neldi Rautenbach
Neldi shares insight and best practice tips on multi-channel customer service from Synthetix. Synthetix is a leading provider of online customer service solutions - working with some of the world's best-known brands. Synthetix create bespoke customer service and knowledge base software that enable customers to self-serve timely, accurate and consistent answers to their questions via the web, mobile, e-mail forms, social networks and in the contact centre.


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