According to FlightAware, 4,002 flights were canceled and 9,259 delayed the day after Christmas (CNN Travel, 2022). Across social media, travelers reported long hold times and busy signals on customer service telephone lines. One passenger recalled how their family waited ten hours on the phone with Southwest.
The 2022 holiday travel season was anything but an isolated event. Ongoing staffing shortages, worsening burnout, and last-minute booking habits among Americans will cause this situation to repeat unless the industry quickly learns from, and acts upon, its mistakes. Primarily, travel organizations should implement communications automation technology into their contact center.
Use automation to boost productivity
While it should always be a contact center imperative to boost productivity, shorten call resolution times and increase call completion rates, these couldn’t be more important than during the holiday season, when one long call can cascade into an endless disaster.
By adding communications automation solutions – like chatbots, messaging apps, and virtual assistants – to call centers, airline companies can increase agent efficiency while reducing workload. These automation tools enable self-service capabilities, meaning customers can independently resolve simple and repetitive tasks, like booking or checking travel points.
With automation infused with AI and Analytics, airlines can save time, money, and resources, while allowing human agents to focus their energy on more complex customer inquiries.
Don’t forget about the customer experience
Another lesson the industry can learn from last year’s fiasco is that no matter how busy the contact center gets, it must prioritize customer experience (CX). Of course, moving listlessly from one customer to the next isn’t the best gauge of customer contentment. And when hold times reach the hour mark (let alone ten hours), maintaining CX is an afterthought.
However, contact center automation solutions can enrich CX, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and retention. Indeed, self-service features can significantly reduce the time it takes a passenger to schedule a flight or check bags. Plus, because agents can direct more time and effort to personal or complicated issues, the likelihood that they will successfully resolve the customer’s problem quickly and sufficiently increases.
Optimize contact center staffing
Due to the surge in customer calls, flight changes, and cancellations, airlines routinely hire additional call center agents every holiday season. Nevertheless, they must inevitably scale back once the call traffic returns to normal. This model is highly inefficient – especially for HR.
But, with automation, the airline industry can better optimize the staffing of their contact center, decreasing costs, and eliminating the need to retrain new call center agents each year. And, as burnout and fatigue continue to plague frontline employees, automation solutions are a great way to lighten the load for these already overworked workers.
The latest automation and self-service capabilities
Get ahead of next year’s holiday travel chaos and turbocharge your contact center with IntelePeer’s SmartAgent. Our solution comes with direct integrations and APIs that fit seamlessly within your current infrastructure, enabling you to update your call center without having to rip and replace your legacy infrastructure. And, our SmartAgent solution allows for greater productivity, CX, and staffing optimization. Get in touch to learn more.