can treat their customers like royalty and still save money if they invest
in automated contact centre solutions, says Mridul Sharma, giving us a glimpse
of this fascinating new technology
more and more people opting to fly, airlines are one of the fastest growing
sectors in Indian industry. This is a result of the business requirements
of globalisation, as enterprise networks within organisations demand more
frequent executive travel and hectic work schedules. With growth comes competition.
Therefore, airlines vie to woo the passengers with packages, smart offers,
attractive fares and discounts.
addition of new airlines has increased competition further, and slashed fares
have enabled the common man to join the list of high fliers and experience
the skies. Airlines are now looking for better value-added services, proactive
customer care and the ability to reach and resolve passenger queries efficiently
and in time, to survive the coming air wars.
contact centre solutions should be capable of being integrated with or add
value to what an airline may have already invested in and lend themselves
to multiple customer interactions across a range of channels, access information
on customer requests, buying patterns, lifetime value, etc. The system should
be capable of getting the customers to the most appropriate agent at the first
try, every time. This would lead to less waiting time and frustration, greater
customer satisfaction and loyalty.
automated contact centre can be managed better and proactively service customers,
keeping them happy. Too often, call centres are seen purely as cost centres.
In these circumstances, making customer service representatives (CSRs) more
productive by saving minutes, even seconds, off every call can potentially
save huge amounts of money as well as call resolution time annually. But an
alternative, and potentially far more profitable, approach is to transform
call centres into customer loyalty contact centres, through proactive customer
first, it may seem more costly for CSRs to spend additional time interacting
with customers, but delivering better service in this manner can pay real
dividends both in the short term and long term. Proactive customer
care can help drive immediate incremental revenue through cross-selling and
up-selling, as well as increase customer retention and loyalty, agent retention
and job satisfaction, as well as profitability over the long-term.
us see how a contact centre solution can help airlines resolve their weaknesses
and make a significant difference in their service offerings. During winters,
fog causes flight delays, long waiting, flight cancellations, and route diversions
all of which affect passengers badly. Not only are flights delayed, but also
passengers are not able to reach the airport in time. In India, toll free
number are not easy to get through and callers prefer to abandon calls rather
than continue to listen to the monotonous music for several minutes at a stretch.
automated contact centre can take thousands and thousands of calls, and route
them efficiently to available CSRs, who could be in any location and work
in multi-site distributed environments. Customer can call a single toll-free
number from anywhere, at any time. They can be connected to an IVR initially
to key in their PNR number and hear an auto response on the status of the
flight and any delays, without any agent intervention intelligently
and without being put on hold!
getting held up in traffic, can call the centre from a mobile or a PCO and
do an online check-in at the IVR level itself, without waiting for a CSR to
be available. The contact centre can also run blaster campaigns to proactively
inform all passengers of any flight delays or cancellations and SMS (short
messaging service) engines can proactively send SMS text messages about any
changes or delays. A unified contact centre solution can provide vital value-added
services, which will enable an airline to stand up to the competition.
this is possible with inbound IVR. Similarly with outbound IVR? The airline''s
contact centre can make outbound calls to customers through a system connected
to an IVR service, even without agents. Once the call is connected, the customer
or prospect can be first introduced to an IVR to give options, if they are
interested, then the call can be routed to a particular IVR script for details
or connected to a CSR.
campaigns handled through IVRs can reach thousands of people in a few hours,
without any manual dialling, giving recorded information on promos, newer
packages, airline fare plans, special schemes, holiday packages, etc. If customers
are interested, their response could be handled at a second level; the calls
can be connected to the most highly skilled agent on the specific topic, who
would be able to give customers all the information and treat them like royalty.
This saves a significant amount of time rather than transferring the calls
from one CSR to another and having the customer repeat the same queries or
drop the call in anger.
calls can also be routed to an IVR instead of keeping them on hold. Callers
can be informed about new packages or promotions. Messages about the estimated
hold time, music of choice or language preference can be entertained at the
IVR level. In case a customer abandons the call, an intelligent contact centre
solution can track it, add the number to the outgoing numbers list, and dial
back the customer all automatically an example of the highest
level of customer service.
has just acquired a sophisticated new sibling called ''v-booking''? Call centre
systems can patch a call to IVR and, on the IVR itself, the customer can punch
in flight details, sector, etc, key in credit card numbers and identification
code, to book tickets, all in a very stringent security environment
voice calls, customers expect a choice of interaction channel email,
web chat, co-browsing, fax or SMS to contact the airline and get information.
services for frequent fliers and lucrative plans have become the need of the
day for airlines operations. Gold and platinum customers can be treated with
greetings at the IVR level. The customer can be identified on call and a customised
greeting: "Good morning Mr
" can be played, while capturing
the information for the customer and presenting it to the CSR as a screen
pop-up, while transferring the call. Premium customers can be called a few
hours before their departure for a tele check-in. They can be given language
options and text-to-speech or speech recognition services.
can be informed about special packages, elite services and new offerings by
email. The airline can keep customers updated with regular newsletters. Information
on holiday packages can be made much more efficient by mapping the customer''s
requirement to the most specialised CSR. While on hold, the customer can be
played information about the specific destination that he or she is planning
to travel to. A customer interested in Kerala would hear information only
about Kerala while on hold, and get connected to a specialist CSR with all
the required information.
identifying their most profitable customers, airlines can develop proactive
care strategies that maximise revenue potential. All customers are costly
to service; but some are not so profitable for the airline, while others have
a significant long-term revenue potential. A proactive care approach would
segment these groups and leverage low-cost, online self-help to serve the
large number of less profitable customers, while reserving personal interaction
for the most valued customer segment.
value is based on the profit earned from a customer over the total life-span
of an active account. Meeting or exceeding customers'' support expectations
maximises their life-span. Proactive care allows a company to provide greatly
differentiated, high-touch services that reinforce the company''s brand identity
and customer value proposition. Customers have shown time and time again that
they are willing to pay more for higher perceived value. Even if these services
cost the customer more, companies attract a loyal following of those who appreciate
being treated like valued customers.
author, is channel manager, South Asia and Middle East for Concerto Software,
which provides automated contact centre solutions.