Jetting to a Better Customer Experience

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Jetting to a Better Customer Experience
The airline industry is looking for a flight plan to combat the headwind of low satisfaction scores

           he airline industry as a whole      comes to customer satisfaction. The air-          When hold time is in excess of a cou-
           has had to weather some tur-        line ranked only behind JetBlue in J.D. ple of minutes, VHT’s Concierge solu-
           bulence in terms of customer        Power’s 2008 rankings for low-cost air- tion offers to hold customers’ places in
           satisfaction. Just how rough        lines; in the aforementioned Forrester line and calls them back when it’s their
the ride has been is in the eye of the         study, it was the only airline ranked in turn to speak to a Southwest agent. The
beholder, but the J.D. Power and Associ-       the top quartile relative to its industry.     Rendezvous solution expands the func-
ates 2009 North America Airline Satis-            “Hold times, for airlines in particular, tionality of Concierge, giving customers
faction Study recently found overall cus-      have gotten significantly worse over the the opportunity to actually schedule a
tomer satisfaction with airlines in 2009       past couple of years,” explains Ian Ja- time to receive the callback—when it’s
has declined for a third consecutive           cobs, a CRM magazine columnist and a convenient for them.
year. According to the study, the decline      Datamonitor senior analyst for cus-               “An important piece to the technology
is exacerbated by decreased passenger          tomer interaction technologies such as is that even after the person hangs up the
satisfaction with in-flight services, flight   interactive voice response (IVR) sys- phone, the data collected in the IVR per-
crews, and costs and fees, when com-           tems. “Right now many airlines are try- sists and will reappear in the form of a
pared with 2008.                               ing to get you to pay to talk to a live screen pop when the customer is called
   “We are in an industry not well liked       human being, though Southwest does- back,” Camulli says.
by [our] customer base,” said C. David         n’t do that. It has been one of the few           While benefits may be clear for callers,
Cush, president and chief executive of-        that even tried to avoid [IVR] sys- Jacobs says contact centers stand to gain
ficer of Virgin America, at a recent For-      tems…but given economic realities, it as well. “For starters, agents will be deal-
rester Research event. “If you told me I’d     had to scale its contact center                            ing with happier, more-satis-
be speaking at a customer experience           up to meet caller demands.”           “We are in an        fied customers—so, as a result,
forum five years ago, I would’ve told you         While the economic realities industry not well          job satisfaction is higher, em-
you were crazy.”
Description: The airline industry as a whole has had to weather some turbulence in terms of customer satisfaction. Just how rough the ride has been is in the eye of the beholder, but the J D Power and Associates 2009 North America Airline Satisfaction Study recently found overall customer satisfaction with airlines in 2009 has declined for a third consecutive year. Looking to stem this tide, Delta Airlines recently stopped utilizing India-based contact centers to handle sales and reservations. In February, United Airlines brought 165 jobs back to its contact centers in Chicago, Detroit, and Hawaii. The potential benefits for even a 10%-point increase in customer experience scores could mean millions for airlines -- $293.7 million, to be precise, according to a recent Forrester study titled "Customer Experience Boosts Revenue."
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