The peak summer travel season is upon us, and it’s poised to be a big one.
Even with costs for airfares and hotels on the rise, nearly 85% of Americans plan to travel at least once this summer (44% plan to get away more than once) and travel and hospitality brands across the globe are on track to approach or hit pre-pandemic revenue levels.
This is the time of year when travel and hospitality companies need to focus most on delivering effortless and quick customer experience (CX), because summer travel is all about experience.
Vacationers long to relax, unplug, and disconnect while they’re traveling. The last thing they want is any unexpected problem, delay, or hassle cutting into their hard-earned downtime. And if they do have a negative experience, most won’t hesitate to tell their friends, coworkers, and social media about it.
To protect your brand reputation, increase customer loyalty, and drive revenue growth during this crucial summer season, ensure your CX operations are running smoothly and efficiently.
Focus on fast resolution times
It’s inevitable that questions and roadblocks will pop up during some trips, and when they do you’ve got to be ready to resolve them quickly. Customers don’t want to spend a lot of time getting the answers or fixes they need – especially when they encounter problems with a flight or hotel reservation – they just want to get on with their vacation.
Tools like intelligent automation and back-office solutions can help you get customers on their way more quickly. Automate simple or repetitive tasks, and give customers self-service options, so you can free your associates up to focus on the more complex interactions that require a human touch.
Empower associates to deliver great experiences by making sure they have easy access to the information they need, when they need it.
Make sure your knowledge base and associate training are optimized to set associates up for success. AI-powered training like TTEC’s proprietary RealPlay bot can help improve associate performance by letting employees role-play and receive real-time coaching on customer interactions.
With any new technology, it’s best to test it out well in advance – not amid a volume surge. Set aside time prior to summer (or in the fall, once the peak season’s ended) to figure out what tools will best meet your needs, and to make sure you’ve got the expertise and processes in place for them to succeed.
Highly skilled, empathetic associates are key
When travelers run into problems on vacation, they’re already frustrated by the time they contact customer support. Associates not only need the knowledge and tools to offer quick resolutions, but they also need to be empathetic in these moments.
As important as technology is, your associates are still the backbone of your CX operation. If a customer is at the airport having a problem with a flight they booked, or they’re trying to check in but the hotel can’t find their reservation, they’re most likely going to want to speak with a person who can help.
Don’t forget to prioritize employee experience this summer. Associates have a hard job, and some may experience burnout, so it’s important to keep teams engaged and positive. When associates are happier and feel supported at their jobs, they’re more likely to deliver a better customer experience. Offering flexible schedules, having work-from-home options, and streamlining their workflow can help keep them engaged.
It might be tempting to reduce your associate staffing level to the bare minimum once the summer surge ends, but don’t. It’s better to maintain a certain non-minimal staffing level year-round. With this approach, you’ll need a less-severe ramp as summer approaches, which will save you onboarding expenses and headaches in the long run.
Prioritize the channels customers use most
There’s a lot of evidence in the travel and hospitality industry that messaging is the channel of the future. A growing number of travelers, especially younger ones, want to communicate with brands via messaging, so it’s important to invest in this growing channel.
In addition to focusing on messaging technology, be sure to also invest in the right type of associates. Associates who are used to handling voice inquiries, for instance, may not have the training or knowledge necessary to work in messaging.
Messaging brings many benefits, including cost savings, speed, and the ability for associates to help multiple customers concurrently.
But customers’ preferred channels often change throughout the travel process, so it’s important to know how your customers prefer to interact in certain moments. Even those who prefer to book their trip online and receive confirmations via messaging, for instance, are likely to call by phone for any urgent problems that arise. So you shouldn’t neglect your voice channel.
An omnichannel approach is crucial to meeting consumers’ changing needs, and that means not only delivering support in a variety of channels, but also making it easy for customers to move among channels.
Partner with CX experts for success
Travel and hospitality brands have a lot on their plates, especially when it comes to the peak summer season. It can seem daunting to add a renewed CX focus to the to-do list. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone.
Working with a CX outsourcing partner gives you access to expert strategists, a wealth of best practices, a global workforce of highly skilled associates, and cutting edge technology to make your CX strategy a reality.
With the right mix of people, technology, and strategy, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way this summer travel season and beyond.