Six-day French air traffic strike causing chaos, frustrations over passport backlog, BA facing new threat of strikes – ahhh yes – it must be Summer!

When things are running smoothly for an organisation it’s easy to believe that your customer service is operating like a finely tuned engine, however, its during times of customer upheaval and disruption that your service offering is truly put to the test, with more than a little turbulence along the way.

Thousands of British air passengers are today facing further delays as they find themselves stranded at home and abroad due to the chaos caused by striking French air traffic controllers, with the disruption set to continue into next week. Add to this further frustration for travellers, as nearly half a million passport applications remain stuck in a backlog, with a real likelihood that some families may not manage to get to their well-earned break abroad this summer.

Unfortunately, unpredictable events such as these are no longer rare occurrences. British holidaymakers have reluctantly resigned themselves to the fact that all too often travel chaos and summer holidays go hand-in-hand, with the added inconvenience of trying to contact customer service agents to resolve travel issues or struggling to find the latest information. So rather than wait for the inevitable disruption to occur again, shouldn’t businesses be planning ahead to ensure they are able to handle the rise in customer contact as quickly and efficiently as possible?

Integrated customer service technology

During times of need customer’s patience levels are often understandably low and the ability for a business to be able to supply customers with the latest up-to-date information on a travel situation is key to making the customers experience as positive as possible. Equally important is the ability to respond to their enquiries promptly and consistently across whichever channel they choose to contact you over. This is where the right integrated customer service software technology, with a centralised knowledge-base at its core, is invaluable.

Making answers to commonly ask questions available online via an intelligent FAQ knowledge-base, both public facing and internally, not only eases the stress on contact centre or airport staff but ensures customers can self-serve the majority of information themselves. Up-dating the knowledge-base constantly to cover the latest information on current situations as they arise, means that staff and customers can find instantly up-dated information easily.

Multi-channel expectations

Whether you are waiting at home to see if your passport will arrive on time for your holiday or you are stranded at an airport trying to find out when your cancelled flight will be re-scheduled, being kept informed is critical. Mobile devices now mean that the majority of us are only a finger press away from the Internet at all times, so the ability for a business to relay information to us via mobile and social channels is invaluable.

Recent research shows that whilst 42% of respondents said they would be happy to recommend a travel company’s service on social media, 56% would be happy to complain about poor service. The significant increase in the percentage of consumers that would complain using Twitter or Facebook illustrates the growing importance of social customer service and the pressure on businesses to be able to answer customer enquiries and complaints in a timely manor across these as well as more traditional channels.

A travel crisis needn’t be a disaster for your business, the ability to respond to customers enquiries consistently across whichever channel they are on and whatever time zone or time of day, can make all the difference between them sticking with you through rough waters or jumping ship for good.