Four capabilities to transform customer experience in the travel industry

By Yaz Mistry

When customers attempt to book a holiday, they want the best experience no matter the channel. With competition increasing, any negative experience can result in the customer changing company and never returning. This is ‘lost’ business. So, what capabilities should every travel organisation be considering? Here’s four I feel particularly passionate about:

Intelligent routing

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to speak to a specialist agent, only to be put through to the wrong department or to an agent who can’t speak your language fluently. It is an essential part of the customer experience to get customers through to the right person, the first time. For example, an agent who specialises in ski holidays should connect with customers interested in booking a ski holiday.

Additionally, high-value customers should be put through to your best agents, and dropped callers should be put through first. I’ve seen first-hand how intelligent routing can maximise customer experience by connecting customers with agents who speak the right language, have specialist knowledge of the locations they are interested in, and are able to prioritise previous bookers.

Smart web chat

This one is a pet peeve of mine – most people have web chat but don’t use it properly! Firstly, smart web chat can be used on a contextual basis, meaning an agent can ‘pop up’ with relevant communications based on the page the customer is currently looking at. So for example: If a customer is browsing for holidays to Egypt, an agent could pop up letting the customer know they have an exclusive deal to Sharm El Sheikh and to let them know if they want to find out more.

Secondly, ‘co-browsing’ takes this capability to the next level and helps customers facing issues. These problems could range from struggling with the payment process to not being able to understand a form. This technology is designed to ensure travel companies don’t miss out on opportunities to get people through the sales funnel. Co-browsing gives your agents the capability to take over the screen for the customer and help them complete the action. I’ve seen this done to great effect recently with a major automotive company who helped customers navigate through their complex, car customisation page.

Virtual workforce

This is all about giving your agents the capability to work remotely. The productivity gains of remote working are much publicised, but travel companies can benefit from more than just enhanced productivity. A virtual workforce can help support campaigns, as more staff can be made available during peak times. It’s easy to upscale during busy periods. For instance, during the summer months, you know more customers will be looking at holidays than in the early months of the year so more agents can be made readily available.

Equally important is the ability to recover from any unexpected disasters. If something goes wrong at a call site or if the phone line goes down, a ‘Virtual Travel Agency’ could continue seamlessly as agents can log in anywhere in the world. Take the recent terrible events that happened in London. Any agents affected, or based in the local area, would be able to carry on working as normal, from home, without any business disruption.

CRM integration

Being able to personalise and tailor communications is an integral part of the digital world. Today’s agents need the capability to tailor their conversation to their customers. Your agents should know if customers have children, where they go on holiday each year and what airport they regularly fly from. This knowledge helps ensure the right offers go to the right customers and can be integrated into most systems very easily.

Improved intelligence significantly boosts the customer experience. Whether contact is via phone, chat or text, customers expect organisations to know their buyer profile. I experienced an excellent example of this with BMW recently. I phoned in to ask a question, but the agent I spoke with could see on the internal system I had suffered a previous issue a week before. As the agent had that information, our conversation became more informed and eventually used as an opportunity to sell me an additional service. The result – I was a happy customer who felt valued! This intelligence ensures greater customer loyalty through better communications.

Most of the capabilities I’m talking about live on top of existing infrastructure, so deployment is exceptionally quick and easy to integrate. These four capabilities offer organisations the opportunity to compete with market leaders and change the way they connect and communicate with customers. Doing so will create better customer journeys and build loyalty.

If these capabilities sound of interest, get in touch at I’ll also be attending ITT, Sorrento, so say hi!

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