Christmas travel chaos sparks need for better customer interactions

Rupanjana Dutta Monday 23rd December 2019 05:14 EST

The weekend before Christmas Day has been believed to be the busiest period for travel this winter, with an estimated 100 passengers flying out of Heathrow every minute alone.

During the great Christmas getaway till the Christmas eve, hundreds of thousands of passengers are inevitably likely to experience delays, lost baggage or other logistical issues that will cause inconvenience and frustration. Online Travel Agents (OTAs) inundated with queries will feel the pressure to work against the clock to resolve every complaint.
One of the most common pain points for passengers is a lack of communication during this disruption. Without timely and effective direction from staff, countless questions can be left unanswered, and affected customers are likely to turn to social media to voice their irritation. To avoid reputational damage, travel companies are under pressure to provide a personalised customer experience to keep consumers up-to-date.

Vasu* and Yamini* who were travelling to Geneva with their eight months old baby Arav*, from the Luton airport, missed their flight last year on Christmas eve due to an internal workers’ strike, that delayed the shuttle services from the train station to the airport. They had to rebook on another almost full flight- and pay full fare again. They were extremely angry, and took to the social media to vent their anger, as the airlines was barely ready to help and the airport services were in a chaos.

They told AV, “We saw may families sitting and crying because they had missed their flights as well, due to the strike that was not known about. We at least could pay again to rebook, but our heart broke seeing people who had no money to rebook – and for some there were no other flights to their destinations. They missed Christmas with family. It was a total disaster. It was a shame how there was absolutely no one to guide these people.”

Anish Kapoor, Head of Travel Operations at Teleperformance said,“Each interaction matters, and it is essential that every time a customer interacts with a company, they leave the experience feeling satisfied. Passengers therefore need to be kept informed throughout their experience via digitally-connected devices and apps. Industry players need to provide direct support through multiple channels such as chat, voice, email and social media to help customers get answers instantly.”

Teleperformance is a leading company in outsourced omnichannel customer experience management, serves as a strategic partner to 50% of the world’s largest companies in a wide variety of industries.
Anish added, “Better managing social media interactions, and addressing complaints in an active two-way dialogue, will align a brand’s need to safeguard their reputation with customers’ demands. A truly effective Digital Customer Experience (DCX) comes down to striking the right balance between the human element and digital services.

“A High-Tech, High-Touch approach can give stressed travellers the option to speak to a customer service agent as well as round-the-clock online chat services. By designing solutions which are constantly looking at improving efficiencies, customers can benefit from improved turn-around-time for claims to less than five days.

“Considering over half (55 per cent) of consumers complain via social networks to request an apology or solution customer interactions must be reimagined if brands are to be presented positively online. By turning social media into true customer care, travel companies can speed up their response times during this busy Christmas period.”

(*Name changed on request)

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