James Eyre, VP marketing at Firstsource Solutions explains why customer experience is your secret weapon this month
It’s official; January has hit, and the blues have arrived with it.
With Christmas a distant memory and summer nowhere in sight, as we head back to our desks and dust off our gym gear, many of us are in need of a pick-me-up. For this very reason, January is one of the busiest times for travel retailers, as people across the country treat themselves to an early getaway. In fact, one of our UK-based travel clients, typically sees increases of 1,000 to 2,000 bookings.
With the potential for so many consumers to interact with your brand over the coming weeks, it is important that travel companies are doing all they can to make booking that new year escape as hassle-free and seamless as possible. The January spike is a key time for retaining old, and gaining new customers; and getting customer communications right could pay dividends when it comes to boosting customer loyalty and, ultimately, your bottom line.
So, how can travel brands make sure that they are delivering the very best customer experiences in the new year?
The right channels
Great customer experience is all about offering the right mix of channels at the right times. In a digital age, it’s important that brands don’t shy away from evolving how they engage with customers. For tech-savvy, time-poor customers, web chat and self-serve models are a smart way of efficiently and easily offering the service they require.
That said, customer experience still – and always will – demand some person-to-person interaction. In fact, 65% of non-face to face consumer contact still happens over the phone and 15% over email. For those last minute holiday panics or trickier questions about their travel plans, your customers are likely to want the reassurance that comes with a voice at the end of the phone, rather than a robot.
It’s essential, then, that travel companies offer a mix of channels that best suit their customer base, to deal with a range of queries during the busy weeks of January.
The most successful travel retailers will also allow consumers to choose how they engage with them, rather than forcing them through certain channels. Avoiding the frustration that comes with only offering web chat when a customer wants human interaction is halfway towards winning the customer experience battle.
Today, customers expect their favourite brands to know who they are and how they like to interact with them. Data has gone a long way in making this a reality; and opens up a whole new world of personalisation during a customer journey. By giving your customer contact agents access to a history of previous interactions, for example, you can create experiences as tailored as the dream holiday your customer just booked.
What’s more, by working with a customer experience expert, travel brands can also use technology – such as speech and analytics software – to interpret calls or chats and feed findings back into your business. Customer service interactions are rare opportunities to have a direct conversation with your customer – so it’s vital that you’re making the most of them, to not only drive up resolution rates but also overall customer satisfaction.
Remember who you are
Whether it’s through branding, marketing or PR – you spend time and money getting your brand’s tone of voice right. This shouldn’t stop when it comes to customer experience. It’s vital that travel retailers are equipped to respond to consumers’ queries in a way that resonates with who you are as a business.
Contact agents are often at the frontline when it comes to protecting and promoting your brand. If your USP is luxury, you should make sure that this is reflected in the way your agents converse with your customers. Likewise, if you’re all about fun, family holidays, why not ask staff to drop in questions about the trip to heighten the customer’s excitement?
By creating a system where agents are empowered to find an answer, rather than worry about how long it will take to do so, you can build an experience that compliments your marketing activity.
An experience to remember
It may be dull and grey outside, but for travel retailers January is an opportunity that you can’t afford to miss. Sales and deals will go some way in attracting new custom this month, but fantastic customer experiences are a sure fire method of building a loyal customer base that returns time and time again.
By offering a range of channels, using data to create personalised customer journeys and empowering agents to offer the best experiences, you can make customer experience your secret weapon for beating the January blues.