How online travel companies can mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on CX

By Anfel Bahri

The Covid-19 outbreak has left travel providers in shock, wondering how they can possibly combat the decline in travellers in the coming months.

In order to help find opportunities to minimise negative fallout, build long-term brand trust and to recover from the crisis; we have analysed data from 15 travel companies. Since the start of the outbreak, the data has shown the following trends and insights to support brands through this difficult time.

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Double down on customer service without increasing costs

An influx of concerned customers looking to cancel, reschedule and request refunds on upcoming trips in the next few months, will put a huge strain on the customer service team.

Data suggests customers are having difficulty finding contact numbers and email addresses online. Phone lines are backed up, causing considerable delays in responsiveness. Customers do not like to be directed to chatbots and prefer to talk to customer agents as COVID-19 related issues often require immediate action.

ACTION: Think of ways to improve customer care experience without increasing costs. For example, providing dedicated COVID-19 help/contact pages and information. Another way would be automation of information (i.e which countries are no longer accessible, which flights are cancelled) via app notifications and emails.

Clarify Customer Compensation

Travel companies are responsible for transparency on where the ownership lies for customer compensation. Is it with the travel provider? Is it with the vendors? It’s important to avoid bouncing customers around in their search for answers. By being clear on the compensation policy and what your customers are entitled to, it will reduce the strain on customer services and establish trust with your customer base.

ACTION: Have a clear COVID-19 compensation policy in place. This should include how to claim, what the terms are, the time frame for cancellations and how long refund payments will take to process.

Aim to Remain Competitive

Demand for travel will continue to exist. Travel companies can ensure their prices are competitive and redirect customers to safe alternative destinations (where available). Additionally, you can encourage customers to book travel at a later date, when the COVID-19 pandemic is in decline (late 2020, early 2021). Many companies have introduced flexible policies and waving cancellation/rescheduling fees. This can be an effective way in which to redirect demand.

ACTION: Continue to remain price competitive in markets that are safe for customers to travel to. Encourage booking modification by making it easy and inexpensive.

Strengthen Brand Perception

How a company responds to a crisis defines its brand perception and will be remembered by customers. It will become increasingly important for companies to take measures to help customers at their own expense (e.g. refunds for closed borders). This will pay off in a big way for brand loyalty in the long term.

With new developments continuously unfolding in real-time, it is paramount to keep customers informed on any actions that will impact their travel plans, directly or indirectly. Travel providers have an opportunity to become market leaders by being the go-to site for accurate travel information.

ACTION: Keep customers informed of the steps that have been taken to ensure their safety and provide best practice and guidance. Customers appreciate communications from CEO’s of reassurance and community support.

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We are working with travel companies to help them through this difficult time. Get in touch for a free session with our CX experts to help you understand the latest actions travel companies are taking to navigate this crisis.

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