Bhupender Singh, chief executive of Intelenet Global Services, delves into the complexities of the compensation process and how travel providers can accommodate a surge in customer complaints
As Ryanair expects to cancel up to 50 flights a day until next year, not being able to keep affected passengers updated on how they can be reimbursed has resulted in pressure from regulators. The Civil Aviation Authority has fixed a deadline for 5pm today for Ryanair to clear up its compensation policy over passenger rights.
The budget airline’s situation, along with the recent Amadeus check-in software glitch which affected multiple airports across the globe, highlights the need for travel providers to maintain a proactive and immediate response when it comes to handling complaints and compensation.
To respond to growing customer demands and pressure from regulators, transparency and fast-tracking the complaints process is key to mitigating the negative impacts of flight delays and cancellations on customer sentiment.
Customers have come to rely on multiple channels such as websites, apps and SMS to manage their travel plans – from online check-in to real-time updates on flight schedules. With social media increasingly becoming an outlet to vent frustration, airlines have much to gain from harnessing these channels as a way to stay in touch with customers and keep them in the loop.
In order for airlines to meet their obligations to customers when it comes to compensation, travel providers are increasingly turning their attention to automation tools to modernise their back-office systems.
When customers are faced with flight delays and cancellations the last thing they want is to feel neglected with no support on how they can be adequately reimbursed. Being made to wait in long queues on automated voice systems and being transferred to different travel agents can further fuel customer frustrations. Automation tools which are designed to notify claimants can in some cases process around 30 per cent of the daily incoming customer queries.
Affected passengers want immediate action but over 85 per cent of the customer requests which arise from flights disruptions require airline staff to go through detailed fare rules. Manually checking through this information across multiple global distribution systems, websites and databases inevitably results in slower resolution of requests, human errors and higher retail losses for airlines.
An airline’s reputation with a passenger is only as good as the last interaction they had with a member of their staff. This makes it important that customer service teams are equipped with the right tools to fast track complaints and resolve issues more quickly.
Customer service is a major battle ground for airlines to remain competitive. Regardless of the cause of the flight disruption – whether it is internal or external – what sets airlines apart from competition is how they interact with affected passengers in their hour of need.