The travel industry has seen an otherwise busy vacation season stifled by the global COVID pandemic. And now that many customers are primed (and overdue) for some R&R, consumer expectations across the travel industry have never been higher. 

So what does that mean for your call center operations?

In short, traveling customers will have even more *cough* baggage *cough* to handle than before. 

Despite the travel industry grinding to a halt in the last few months, consumers are unwilling to accept subpar customer experiences. Even though the industry may be rusty from the lull, customers expect flawless experiences from the first call, click, or transaction until they arrive at their destination.

That’s because the travel hiatus has given customers more leverage than ever before. Failing to meet the new post-COVID standards will compel consumers to switch to competitors ready to serve them.

The common axiom of “Thank you for choosing us…we know you have many travel options” has never been more literal.

So how can you maximize ROI across your call center operation to prepare for the travel industry’s awakening? Here’s how:

Be Prepared for the Travel Industry Restart

In order to best serve your customers, agents need to be ready to answer questions and facilitate processes quickly. With plenty of uncertainty still, it’s impossible to predict when and how widely markets will reopen, let alone when customer demand will spike. 

Luckily, at-home agents love the flexibility and convenience of working from home. Double down on the equity you’ve built across these at-home models to create flexible staffing models that keep you from overstaffing your call center.

Now is also a good time to review your current customer experience, to identify self-service automation that can reduce the agent burden and lower your total call center costs. The travel industry has begun taking advantage of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and chatbot solutions to automate many processes that have historically burdened your call center staff.

Lower Your Average Handle Time to Increase Customer Revenue

Generally speaking, good customer experience leads to more revenue, whereas bad customer experience can have you lose a customer for life. 

Don’t squander a customer relationship with excessive call times. The last thing a caller wants, after putting their travel on hold for months, is to waste their time sitting on hold. 

Here are some key themes to consider to lower your average handle time (AHT):

Coach — Reducing AHT can be as simple as executing a playbook. Make sure you’re helping new and existing agents understand the best practices for common customer scenarios. 

Educate — Knowledge is power, and equipping your agents with Knowledge Base and CRM technology gives them better intelligence to pinpoint customer challenges, with prior call history, previous transactions, and other useful information available on-demand. 

Automate — Have you tested your own call center experience lately? For both your travel industry agent and customer, you should be looking for the pain points across your customer experience that slow call resolution. In response, consider features that speed up redundant processes (like data collection) through connected systems or IVR technology. 

Boost Customer Satisfaction for Travel Industry ROI

Keeping customers happy is the easiest way to motivate customer retention. Whether smooth sailing or clear skies, customers appreciate a satisfying trip from start to finish. 

Here are a few tips to create better-performing travel call centers:

Call Back Technology — Callers hate being handcuffed to their phones on hold — and agents can’t always help long waits. So offer your customers a callback option (just like it sounds) where agents can let customers return to their busy lives with an assurance that they’ll be called back as soon as an agent is available.

Set Goals — Just like lowering AHT, you call center agents should always be aiming toward metric goals. Through gamification and competition, your call center can help agents achieve clarity and accountability in their work, which helps bolster customer satisfaction. 

Lower Agent Attrition — Overall customer satisfaction is largely influenced by the skill of your travel industry agents. More senior and satisfied agents generally deliver better experiences. To keep your best agents around, ask them how you can boost process efficiency and reduce tedious, manual tasks to make their lives easier. 

Evaluate Your Travel Industry Call Center Vendor

Many travel industry leaders are looking for great ways to lower call center costs while boosting customer experience standards.

But too many take the wrong view, assuming they must pay more money for better CX, or save money at the cost of their customers’ overall satisfaction—but a lower price does NOT necessarily mean inferior CX, especially with middle-market vendors where the opposite is often true. 

As the industry slowly returns to normal, now is the time for evaluations to ensure your call center is maximized for the travel industry’s awakening. Consider a champion vs. challenger model that rates your status quo approach against a new vendor’s ability to achieve key KPIs. 

Leverage Outsourcing to Maximize Your Travel Industry ROI

With cost and consistency becoming more important for leaders during a historically lean year, many organizations are shifting to tested BPO vendors, both near and far, to support their call center needs. 

Industries that shifted to fully remote teams and departed from their on-premise locations are now finding that they can sustain competitiveness, flexible capacity and efficiency with vendors that specialize in travel industry BPO services.

In addition to maintaining exemplary customer experience, the average cost of a nearshore call center can lower costs by as much as 60%. Better still, qualified call center partners will have the leading-edge technology that ensures your customers are getting a great CX by leveraging the BPO partners’ self service tools, AI and omnichannel technology.

With more than 25 years of direct call center expertise in the travel industry, Outsource Consultants has been helping leading travel organizations optimize performance and reduce costs with top tier BPO providers to meet their goals. 

Curious whether your call center is ready to take off again and serve your customers? Contact Outsource Consultants for a free, no-risk consultation to find out.

About the author: Outsource Consultants