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Travel musings: How to manage the seasonal spike in customer experience

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In the travel industry, customer service in the past focused on pre-travel support across the selection, booking, confirmation and ticket delivery process, with either a travel agent or a telephone support service resolving queries. Apart from support from ground staff at the departure point, the next point of service interaction would be when in-destination representatives took over responsibility for the traveler and dealt with their issues and needs.

Today, consumer expectation for travel support extends through their entire experience – from departure, right through to arrival back home at the end of their journey. This means that travel brands need to offer a more proactive level of interaction to manage the expectations of their increasingly well-informed and demanding customers.

In this context, the summer spike is a key time to both retain old customers and gain new ones – so it’s important that travel companies do all they can to make that all-important summer holiday as smooth and seamless as possible. Getting your customer service right will be key to boosting customer loyalty and in turn your bottom line.

But what practical measures can businesses take to manage this spike and ensure they are offering the best possible customer experience?

A choice of channels

Customers now have more choice than ever before to contact their brands, whether it’s via voice, email or even through chatbots. Great customer experience is essentially about offering the right mix of channels at the right time.

Indeed, advances in chatbots and artificial intelligence have made digital and self-serve communication channels popular options for brands looking to reduce costs and help as many customers as possible. They can be particularly useful for solving straightforward requests, such as enquiries over reservations. However, for more complex issues – such as last-minute flight cancellations – customers still look for the comfort and reassurance of a person at the other end of the phone.

It’s essential, then, those travel companies offer a mix of channels that best suit their customer base. The most successful travel retailers allow consumers to choose how they engage with them, rather than forcing them through certain channels.

Make the most of data

Alongside integrating new contact models into your customer service arsenal, you can also investigate where else new technology can help. Data, for example, can revolutionize how you interact with your customers by helping you personalize your services.

Many consumers now expect businesses to know who they are and how they like to interact with them. So, by giving your customer service associates or marketers access to a history of previous interactions, you can offer a customer experience as tailored as their latest holiday. This data can also come in handy for marketing activity – such as sending promotional emails – which will help build brand affinity and loyalty.

Don’t forgot who you are

Travel is inherently an emotionally positive experience. While price and availability matter to a certain degree, consumers will choose the brands that provide the experience they value, meaning their choice of travel partner is entirely self-selecting. As a result, businesses spend a considerable amount of time and money getting their image and tone of voice right.

But this shouldn’t stop at marketing or PR. Your customer experience should be consistent with the ethos of your brand. Training contact associates at the frontline will be key to protecting and promoting your brand. Allowing them to inject fun and personality in their customer interactions will help build experiences that compliment your marketing activity.

While sales and deals will go some way in attracting new customers, delivering a fantastic customer experience is a sure-fire way to build a loyal customer base that returns time and time again. Offering a wide range of channels by making the most of the data available to you and empowering associates to offer the best experience, can ensure that your customer service won’t let you down this summer.

This article was originally published at TravelBulletin.co.uk

Read our blog ‘Embarking on a chatbot journey: The why, where and how’ to learn more about chatbots.

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