After limited travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are eager to travel again this summer. Even as prices skyrocket for flights, hotels, gas and more, the demand for vacations remains steady. Airlines are especially seeing an increase in bookings. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, domestic ticket bookings and revenue have risen above 2019 levels for the first time since March 2020.
With six in 10 Americans planning at least one summer trip, airlines must prepare to serve a surge of consumers with less workers than usual. To avoid churn, brands must overcome this challenge and build unmatched customer loyalty through better customer experience (CX).
Customer Satisfaction: Going Downhill, Fast.
Airlines are experiencing a steady decline in customer satisfaction as demand for flights grows. The cancellation rate is already six times higher than what airlines target due to weather, the labor shortage and other unforeseen events. During Memorial Day weekend, U.S. airlines canceled more than 2,800 flights.
But cancellations and delays are only the first issues at hand. When travelers reach out to customer service departments about these problems, nobody is there - at least for a while. And although an hour’s wait may be an improvement from the height of the pandemic, it’s not good enough for today’s demanding consumer.
Frustration builds. Automated prompts send travelers in circles. Once customers finally get through to an agent, they must reauthenticate, re-explain and pray they don’t get disconnected. Agents have no context of the problem or background on the customer, which wastes time on both ends toward a resolution.
There is a better, simpler way of doing things. The airlines that catch on are the ones who will exit this summer with heaps of new long-term loyal customers.
Fixing CX: Get Personal, Fast
Airlines need to respond to more travelers than ever, faster than ever, to build customer loyalty. But with customer service reps quitting at double the average rate, the solution isn’t hiring alone. It’s to do more with less through technology.
Cloud contact center technology provides airlines with a single platform to quickly serve the masses during flight cancellations, seat changes or weather delays. This technology allows agents to seamlessly interact with customers on multiple channels – calls, SMS messaging, branded mobile apps or social media – without losing the context of the situation or customer.
When airlines are able to proactively interact with customers on their preferred channels, wait times are reduced by up to 50%. As a result, frustration goes down – and loyalty goes up. Everybody likes ‘quick and easy’.
Tech also enables agents to do their jobs better and more easily. It can predict the needs of the customer before they even call by embedding artificial intelligence (AI) across the customer journey. Agents can see the history of all interactions with the airline, confirm identification using mobile phone technology like Face ID and then quickly transfer the customer to the proper department, all in a single platform. AI can even provide the agent with the next best response to solve this individual’s problem.
Treat Every Customer with First-Class CX
Customer experience can be a huge differentiator and make or break businesses through the busy months ahead. Modern CX can decrease hold times, improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue by reducing customer churn.
Airlines have little control over the weather or workforce shortage, but they have full control with how they serve customers. New, non-legacy CX platforms can enable a quick, personalized experience when travelers need it most.