I’ve been sitting here going through our stat’s ready to write a blog on why you should care that we are incredibly quick at answering our phones and replying to your emails and frankly, it’s boring. Who’s cares? If you’re obsessed with your TMC’s SLA’s, maybe you’re with the wrong company.
You probably think I’m being slightly provocative here. But seriously, do you give a flying fig if we answer the phone in 3 rings or 4?! If I reel off a load of stats to you, you’ll skim read it and be bored and our competitors will lie and say they have the same standards as us. But I don’t need to tell you that, you know the way it works, you’ve experienced as a consumer time and time again.
So what should you care about instead of the cold hard stats that can hide a whole manner of sins? The approach.
In the US you have to go through 3 barriers to get to a ‘warm response unit’, yes, that’s what they call talking to a human, god help us all. If you’re taking the time to contact someone, a ‘warm response’ is the first thing you want, not the last.
Of course, tech has its place. Instant gratification through mobile and click to book platforms, are perfect for simple trips, point to point bookings and when everything goes to plan. But in your hour of need when you want someone to help you, do you want to have to persevere to speak to the ‘warm response unit’ your TMC has chosen to afford, or do you want get through to someone who knows what they are doing because they deal with customers complex issues day in, day out.
John Lewis’ philosophy is that the customer is never wrong. It’s a subtle difference to ‘the customer is always right’ or ‘the customer isn’t always right but they are the customer’ because clearly, as far as the customer is concerned, they are never wrong. We take the same approach and when a customer has an issue, it’s our job to fix it. Whatever it is. This creates a partnership mentality and you can clearly see where relative value plays it’s part and relationships are key.
Our SLA’s don’t focus on how quickly we answer the phone, they focus on how quickly we resolve the problem. And trust me, when you are stuck at an airport wondering how you’re going to get home for your child’s birthday party, you’re going to want the latter.
If you’re still a little sceptical, I’ll give you a few examples that highlight the impact a different approach can have.
JFK shuts down. You, along with a quarter of a million other customers are displaced within 20 minutes. You call your TMC which, which let’s face it, has gone into overload like every other agency. Am I going to claim that we could get you a flight when no flights are going? No. But would we rebook you on the first available flight, book you a hotel and advise you to book a restaurant before most customers have even spoken to an airline representative You bet we will. All while you’d be speaking to a ‘warm response unit’ who is advising you to speak to the airline/rebook online/try a different airline.
Your flight is delayed, just a single flight so you should be able to get through quickly. What if it’s outside of UK business hours? Do you get through to a 3rd party call handler who is ensuring the SLA is met (yep, 3 rings and you are speaking to them – tick) but only answers a handful of calls overnight so isn’t experienced in rebooking, reticketing or rerouting? You’re stuck where you are or end up fending for yourself trying to persuade the airline that you really do need to get home asap. Or, you get through to our team, who might be working from home but they are experienced and know our customers inside out. They are going to be sensitive to the fact that your £250 flight relates to a £1m meeting so they will find a solution that is proportionate.
Your travel might not be new but our approach is.