CDC Software Warns Travel Sector to Focus on Customer Communication as Ash Cloud Looms

24 May 2011

Airlines & travel companies must be prepared for a deluge of customer calls as ash cloud threatens half-term get-away.

As customers face the prospect of further flight disruptions this week as the ash cloud threatens to return in time for the half-term get-away, Paul Elswood, UK managing director of CDC Software, the customer feedback and complaint management partner to the travel sector, said: “There is no excuse to keep travellers in the dark about potential flight cancellations and delays.”

According to Michael Wallis, customer care support and duty office manager, at travel company, Page & Moy Travel Group: “It is vital that travel agents and airlines keep in touch with customers at times of major disruption.

“People can feel very vulnerable when travel plans go awry, especially if they are away from home and travelling alone or with children. By being proactive we give customers back some control - and the more in control the customer is, the happier they feel. The happier our customers are, the easier it is to focus on finding the best solutions for them,” continued Michael Wallis.

Page & Moy Travel Group uses CDC Respond, the customer feedback and management solution from CDC Software, across its group to manage customer feedback and complaints. The solution combines proactive communication with reactive response.

If more of the airlines and travel businesses had had similar solutions in place during the ash cloud last year the potential for chaos during the winter airport shutdowns, and now the latest volcanic eruption, would not have been so catastrophic for so many.

Five reasons airlines & travel agents must be proactive with customer service during service delays:
1. Readily available information reduces the pressure on frontline staff

2. Regular updates improve customer relations

3. Adequate on-the-ground customer care reduces the number and ferocity of complaints

4. Process efficiency and resolution lessens the cost to the business

5. Pre-planning ensures other customer services are not impacted

The root cause analysis built into CDC Respond provides an immediate picture of common complaints received from customers, whether made in person, online or by phone.

From this, the central management teams and staff on the ground at the appropriate travel terminals, can plan and action the policies and processes devised from the analysis. The real-time view ensures customers receive the very latest information.

Airlines and travel companies are likely to receive a high number of complaints from customers following the delays of the past few days. They will also experience higher than expected demand for advanced information now that disruptions are expected to return on Friday – just in time for the half-term get-away. It is therefore vital that the information already held from the 2010 ash cloud, and from this week, is used to plan for the future return of the cloud.

One of the major benefits of CDC Respond is the ability to send proactive communication to customers electronically in advance of them leaving home if delays are likely to happen. The same process can be applied to updates.

For example, management information can be shared with insurance partners expecting claims. Customers can be proactively contacted to help the claim process. All of this starts to rebuild the good will between business and customer – whether or not the delay was their responsibility.

“Successful customer service is about getting the process right from the start. Often huge volumes of customers must be handled very quickly. The consequence of poor event management is greater brand damage and operational costs; therefore the longer it takes for the business to recover,” explained Paul Elswood.

CDC Respond provides a “total environment” for reactive and proactive customer complaints and feedback management. It underpins all communication and resolution processes and enables a business to engage proactively with its customers.

By centralising the customer service process, CDC Respond provides employees with greater visibility and control over the end-to-end customer management process. One of the biggest issues customers have with call centres is the need to constantly repeat information as they are passed around the organisation.

The unanimous complaint from travellers caught in the chaos of the 2010 ash cloud and the snow last winter was the severe lack of communication and up-to-date and accurate information.

“Customers like to know they’re being looked after – even if it is just being listened to. Customer expectations, and therefore a customer’s experience, can be managed. Whilst an airline can’t be blamed for an ‘ash cloud’, it can be blamed for poor customer service. Customers expect lessons to be learned and they’ll no longer tolerate poor communications,” added Paul Elswood.

“Ultimately, CDC Respond transforms a call centre into a ‘customer service relationship centre'. It enables people, process and technology to work together,” concluded Paul Elswood.

CDC Respond is compatible with all legacy database and ERP systems. This means customer records can be easily imported. Being browser-based it is also extremely flexible. It can be set-up in any location and the number of users increased simply by downloading. This simplicity makes it an extremely affordable customer management tool. In terms of brand reputation and maintenance, CDC Respond starts to deliver immediately.

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