Bio: Amy Clark is the lead author and editor of two customer service blogs – I Want It Now, which examines the era of instant gratification, and Self Service Central, which provides her thoughts on how best to help customers assist themselves online . She also serves as Customer Success Director at WalkMe.
The days are longer, the air is warmer and, everyone is looking to take advantage of the summer.
One of the busiest vacation times of the year, travelers across the globe are packing up and heading out in search of a little rest and relaxation. After one of the coldest winters on record in the US, it comes with no surprise that the demand for summer travel has increased substantially from the year before. Whether they are traveling by plane, train, boat or car, the journey to paradise can be hectic for both novice and experienced travelers.
There is always a chance that something can go wrong.
Nothing can dampen a vacation like stress and tension; therefore, it is imperative for companies to step in and help stop these problems before they happen. While in the digital age, travel booking has increasingly taken on a “do-it-yourself” fashion, with airline and hotel websites such as Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, among others, providing an avenue for self-service, there is still a significant role that travel and tourism service providers must place in providing an easy customer experience.
Effective customer service is an immensely important aspect of the travel industry, as it can truly determine whether customers will begin their vacation with either a smile or a frown on their face, and whether they will stay loyal to the company for future vacations.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of tips every customer needs to know about customer service when travelling by air, car or train this summer.
In recent years, airlines have used technology to effectively communicate with consumers and ultimately improve their customer service initiatives.
Alan Bender from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University agrees with this notion by stating,
“Airlines are now totally proactive instead of being essentially reactive” .
In being proactive, airlines are now, for example, able to cancel and rebook flight in advance either by email, text or even social media (Forbes). As the most “socially devoted” industry, airlines have effectively harnessed the power of social media to answer questions, alleviate concerns and ultimately ease the entire travel process (Forbes). In doing so, airlines have opened new lines of communication that can help prevent a number of avoidable travel disasters.
If a problem arises, remember to use these social channels (such, as Facebook, Twitter, Apps etc.) to communicate with your airline before it escalates.
Yet it’s not just one-directional, or even just a single customer-service provider relationship anymore. Customer review websites such as TripAdvisor allow customers to share both positive and negative experiences about a particular airline or travel service provider, and these companies should pay attention. Pay attention not just to see where there is customer resentment and to focus on ways to improve, but also to engage customers and to let them know that you value their feedback and are working hard to make their experience better.
In addition to review websites, there are sites to compare flight and package prices as well, such as Kayak, Booking.com and Skyscanner. Customers can see – very openly – which are the least expensive options, and make informed decisions based on their preferences (do they mind a stopover, if the flight is cheaper? Does the time of day/night work best for them?).
Gartner Analysts point to KLM who has a new CRM model in order to make sure they are taking care of their customers:
“This strategic approach allows KLM to go beyond loyalty program metrics and focus on a more accurate, value-based segmentation of existing customers. The company can then define a strategy and plan of action for each segment, and apply the plan to every interaction with customers, across all points of contact.”
KLM now interacts with customers on a personalized basis, to deliver a better customer experience. Instead of reacting to people simply on the basis of program status, KLM can base interactions on customer value, both current and potential.
Whether through social media, price comparison or customer review websites, the common themes that have characterized the new customer experience environment is transparency and communication. From all directions, customers, prospective customers and the service providers themselves, each side can be aware of what the best options are, what each’s expectations are and how to best meet those expectations.
Packing up the car and heading out on the open road is an ambitious, yet unforgettable experience. Besides ensuring your car is maintained and your route has been planned, there are a number of things you can do in advance in order to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch.
For instance, remember to bring all appropriate documentation (such as, ownership, insurance etc.) to ensure that any problem can be resolved with ease. Many insurance companies offer additional tips and apps to remember when travelling by car as well so do not be afraid to ask. Think about the back of your routeplanner is recommended.
Additionally, it is important to ensure accommodation (if necessary) is planned in advance since many hotels during this time are filled to capacity.
Like air travel – and this applies for train travel as well – customers can nowadays compare prices on rental car providers and see customer feedback on review sites as well.
In addition, and this also applies to all forms of travel, mobile apps from service providers allow for accelerated and streamlined online and advanced booking, with the goal of ensuring that the time spent in checking in at the airport, train station or rental car station is short, smooth and stress-free.
With more than double the growth of domestic air travel over the last decade, train travel continues to remain a popular travel option. (Power Engineering). Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, train travel can often be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
However, in order to avoid any disappointments, it is important to plan ahead.
For instance, it is important to choose the right ticket. If you are traveling to Europe, train travel is an excellent way to see several countries in a short period of time. When buying a rail pass it is important to decide ahead of time if you would like a consecutive (valid for unlimited train travel) or flexi (valid for a fixed number of travel days) rail pass since choosing the right option will help minimize costs and maximize travel time. Also, it is important to consider onboard amenities (such as, dining options, internet connections etc.) for any journey, regardless of duration in order to avoid any mishaps along the way. And again, use the apps of the train company, if available.
With proper planning, it is easy to prevent a dreaded travel disaster.
It has also never been easier to get answers to questions when and where you need them through a number of different communication channels. Many companies employ a number of effective customer service strategies in order to alleviate stress during this busy travel time.
It is helpful to make a checklist with important contact information before venturing out, ensuring you are prepared for any situation. These are essential things you need to know about customer service.
Most importantly, don’t let travel stress hold you back – get out there and enjoy everything the short summer season has to offer!
Photocredits: RLL Riders, the clotheshorse