A rapidly growing global travel company faced an enviable challenge: due to high customer demand from around the world during the summer travel season, the company needed to increase its seasonal and overall customer support capacity, as well as expand its multilingual support. The demanding nature of global travel, however, includes customer expectations for 24/7 support around the world, complex customer enquiries and requests, multilingual requirements, and seasonal peaks and troughs of demand.
The travel company turned to a trusted partner, TTEC, to meet these challenges and to quickly recruit, hire, and onboard new multilingual agents who spoke English, Spanish, and Portuguese at a new Canadian contact center. Utilizing our expansive talent pool and onboarding best practices, we successfully ramped up to 60 full-time multilingual employees (FTEs) within one month.
From our prior experience working with the client, we recognized the need to front-load key management and personnel well in advance to ensure effective support. Leadership was in place prior to the seasonal demand, particularly for the US travel peak season of June and July. In fact, ramp-up began in January each year to ensure maximum capacity was in place.
Team leaders were positioned first to ensure staff entering production had the right support and mentoring. TTEC built its ramp plan timeline to include this front-loading, requiring TTEC to begin onboarding resources several weeks prior to the “season” kick off, earlier than is typical for the industry. This innovative strategy has resulted in the client requiring the same approach from its other partners.
The associates handled inbound calls and emails. The requests for assistance ranged from complex hotel re-location requests and stranded guests, accommodation not meeting expectations, to over-billing issues. Customers could be stressed, and these interactions required the highest levels of customer service skills. TTEC supported the client’s 3-week training program to ensure each year’s intake was fully equipped to deal with the demands, through a combination of dedicated and “flex” trainers who have intimate and first-hand experience working directly on the campaign.
An innovative program of post-training support and mentoring was implemented which helped newly trained staff to build the necessary skills and confidence that may not be fully developed during the initial 3 weeks of associate training. Every associate must be able to deal with any type of enquiry, making the quality and breadth of training vital to delivering excellent customer experience.
TTEC has a policy of engaging near-native-speaking associates to ensure cultural familiarity with customer groups. We also constantly monitored our own performance to build understanding of customer’s needs and create action plans to improve performance. At monthly business reviews, we proactively proposed changes that have potential to improve the customer experience. For instance, data feeds into the Client’s tools had been initiated by TTEC to allow for better real-time management of TTEC’s employees, thus improving capacity planning, forecasting and adherence, as well as overall associate performance measurement to the campaign.
Over the course of three years, we built a customer-centric, efficient, and highly engaged customer support team that matched the client’s growing needs. In the second year, staffing at the contact center grew to 150 FTEs, which included providing all of the Portuguese language customer support for the company. In the third year, staffing doubled to 300 FTEs. Due to our expertise, we were also asked to handle the seasonal ramp up and ramp down processes. During the second and third year, French and German language support were also added.
Compared to a more tenured contact center, overall absenteeism and attrition were lower. Attrition on a monthly basis was 2% lower and absenteeism was 4% lower at the new contact center. CSAT results also outperformed the more tenured site. For example, CSAT scores of the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking agents at the new contact center were 4.5% and 3% higher, respectively.