Productivity is the name of the game right now. As demand for travel skyrockets, the industry has a new challenge: hiring, training, and upskilling enough people to keep things running smoothly. More self-service and more automation can alleviate travel’s resourcing challenges.
For understaffed travel agencies, it is not just the surge in bookings, there is the knock-on volume of ticket changes, refunds, and other enquiries to manage too. And the risk is: if agencies can’t resolve these issues quickly and accurately, they are less valuable to customers. Travel retailing software should be picking up the slack — yet many platforms still force agents to waste valuable hours on unprofitable, repetitive manual tasks. That is incredibly frustrating at the best of times. But right now, it is a deal-breaker. So, how can under-resourced businesses stay on top of everything and keep customers happy? Let self-service and automation do the heavy lifting.
Supporting travellers is tricky, but understaffing makes it even trickier
Modern customer support is all about finding solutions fast, and technology doing the hard work to keep people happy. But in travel, the reality is more complicated because the customer support journey is twofold:
- Travellers seeking support from agents
- Agents seeking support from suppliers to resolve travellers’ queries
It is a fragmented industry where nobody ‘owns’ the whole customer experience, unlike how Amazon fulfils third-party orders from start to finish. Booking a trip is not like ordering a physical product; a trip is the sum of many moving parts that are each fulfilled by different providers. And as a result, getting support often means dealing with multiple systems, platforms, or channels. This is a whole lot of hassle for agents.
But the truth is: customers do not care about all this technical complexity. They just want their problems resolved..
Five ways travel can modernise its customer support
Consumers expect trips to be like any other purchase: fast, simple, and hassle-free if you change your mind. To stay relevant and meet these expectations, travel has no choice but to modernise, and offer a support service similar to the likes of Amazon, Deliveroo, and Shopify. Here’s what they can teach us:
Keep it simple
Consumers expect us to solve complexity for them.
Anticipate customers’ needs
Customers expect smooth travel experiences. You need the right tools that consolidate all the information and options, and help match customer needs with the right offers.
Give people options
Customers expect support to be available through different mediums, i.e., phone, chatbot and email.
The most successful brands do not just think of customer support in terms of helpdesks, they keep service at the heart of every function.
Automate whatever you can
Offload manual tasks on technology, and claw back valuable minutes for agents through automation.
Plugging the skills gap
Within MyTravelport, there is an online community where users can support each other, get answers to FAQs, and receive expert support.