Tim is a 30 year veteran of the software industry. He has built a number of European enterprise software businesses, always with a focus on deploying technology and expertise to support customer business outcomes. Propositions he has supported include data analytics/mining within market and social research, call centre customer experience management, web application performance management and enterprise portfolio management. In his current role, Tim leads a team advising on how customer communications can be deployed to accelerate the business objectives of enterprises through better management of customer experience.
The first few months of the New Year are traditionally busy ones for the travel industry, with many airlines touting special offers as people begin to dream of sitting by the pool on a summer holiday. Of course the majority of holiday plans are executed without a hitch, but just as there can be no guarantees that the weather will be warm and sunny, there is no way for airlines to forecast and prevent potential delays and cancellations that may lay ahead.
While there’s not much that an airline or tour operator can do about unexpected monsoons, the power is definitely in their hands when it comes to interacting with customers during periods of disruption. Failing to keep passengers in the loop with the latest information about delays and cancellations risks ruining brand reputation, while effective communication will allow them to overcome problems with their reputations intact.
There are three steps that airlines can follow to keep everything on course. Firstly, they need to ensure all the lines of communication have been identified and opened, so conversations can take place and information can flow freely. Next, they need to be prepared to call on outside help to reach customers if they are struggling to do so; a problem such as having your phone system going down cannot be allowed to prevent airlines reaching their customers, so they must be willing to call upon third party communication experts when they are needed. Finally, once the issue has been resolved, they must be sure to communicate clearly with customers in the aftermath. They can close the loop here, explaining in a personalised manner what happened and outlining the resolution that was reached.
I explored these issues in greater depth in a recent opinion article for Customer Experience Magazine, which I hope you find interesting as a deeper exploration. At a top level, however, if airlines get a firm handle on these three key areas of customer communication, they will be in a good position to enjoy a successful summer season.