Modern CX is long overdue in the passenger transportation industry
A travel boom is upon us. Airlines, cruise lines, and passenger railroads need to refresh their CX if they want to cash in and create loyal customers for life.
Last updated March 13, 2023
Weary travelers who’ve been cooped-up since COVID-19 are hungry for adventure in 2023.
Despite economic uncertainty, 73 percent of people surveyed by Booking.com are more optimistic about travel than they were in 2022, and half say that investing in a vacation is a top priority.
73% of people are more optimistic about travel than they were in 2022.Booking.com
This travel boom is an opportunity for airlines, cruise lines, and passenger railroads to gain a foothold with high lifetime value customers.
But to make a good impression, passenger transportation companies need to take an honest look at their customer experience and prioritize needed changes to modernize their experience for the next generation of sightseers, vacationers, business travelers, and digital nomads.
Read on for CX tips and best practices in the passenger transportation industry.
CX challenges in the passenger transportation industry
Customers have had to contend with a lot recently:
- Stranded passengers at Changi Airport
- Luggage piling up at Heathrow Airport
- Rising prices for in-demand cruises
- Visa processing delays impacting Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and other global markets
- Railroad strikes complicating travel plans in Europe and the United States
Meanwhile, labor challenges and rising costs have put pressure on travel companies to deliver the same high-quality experiences with fewer staff and resources.
The passenger transportation industry faces a few key challenges, including:
- Labor shortages: Like most industries, transportation companies have struggled to re-staff crews and customer service teams to pre-pandemic levels.
- Digital channels lagging: Many companies are still stuck in the telephony and email world, with poor experiences and long wait times that frustrate customers and agents alike.
- Balancing the budget: With fluctuating fuel and supply chain costs, transportation companies must cut costs in other areas while striving to deliver high-quality customer service.
These challenges have resulted in an urgent need for digital transformation in the travel industry. Investments in modern CX tools like messaging and self-service can help ease passengers’ pain points and encourage more return customers in 2023 and beyond.
3 ways that modernizing CX can increase ROI
Increase customer loyalty and lifetime value by connecting with customers on the channels they prefer
According to Expedia, Millennials travel more than any other generation, and Gen Z are close behind. Younger generations are more digitally savvy, and they expect to be able to message with companies on the apps and platforms they already use.
Spanish cruise line Baleària was among the first early adopters to send boarding passes with WhatsApp, fully embracing the shift toward social media and digital channels.
“We are taking steps to convert the traditional call center that we had, which handled calls and emails, into a more modern and agile contact center through an omnichannel strategy with Zendesk.”Alessandro Zollino, Director of Customer Experience at Baleària
Another example is Azerbaijan Airlines, which successfully upgraded to an omnichannel solution with Zendesk and now receives 60 percent of its requests from email and WhatsApp. Since making the change, the airline’s customer satisfaction score is 10 points higher than the industry average.
Legacy tools are especially cumbersome for mobile phone users. Most Millennials research and book travel on their smartphone, but 86 percent aren’t happy with their mobile travel booking experience.
One way you can be more mobile-friendly is by using Zendesk SDKs to add messaging to your web, mobile, and social channels. That way, if a passenger has a quick question before, during, or after a trip, your customer service team can step in and help them find the answers they need, from reservation to destination.
Customize your workspace so you can build for productivity and scale while keeping costs down
Outdated technology means that customer service agents have to work harder to track down information and troubleshoot problems. This slows down response times and annoys customers who are used to more advanced capabilities from consumer brands.
Modern CX solutions allow you to customize workflows and build your own apps, so you can do more with less effort and deliver smarter interactions at scale. Integrating core business applications like loyalty programs and seat selectors into your support platform saves time and helps agents turn interactions into revenue-generating opportunities.
Zendesk worked with Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-fare airline, to bring its legacy systems into the modern era and scale to reach its ambition of serving 225 million passengers annually.
“Our goal with this new customer service initiative is to drive efficiency, offer innovation for customers, and create a single platform for customer support. We are very pleased with Zendesk and believe that we are getting good value out of our investment.”
Tracy Kennedy, Director of Customer Service at Ryanair
In just six months, the airline implemented a single-platform, omnichannel support solution across 38 countries, realizing significant operational cost savings in the process.
67 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience, and transportation companies can capitalize on that fact by making their service more specific and personalized.
Use Zendesk’s API to integrate data from external systems like Sabre, Amadeus, Travelport, and Versonix, as well as loyalty programs and baggage systems. With customer history and context readily available, agents can personalize passenger engagements, quickly answer questions, deliver proactive support, and identify opportunities for upsells.
Create efficiencies so you can remain agile in an ever-changing environment
The transportation industry has been hit hard by market changes in the pandemic era. Modernizing your technology makes it easier to respond to changes in real time, without requiring digital transformations that take several years to implement. With Zendesk, you can start seeing value in months instead of years.
With the growing travel boom, CX teams need to think about adapting internal processes so they can keep up with the increased demand.
Implementing a more robust CX platform like Zendesk means that you can build time-saving workflows for agents and automate repetitive, low-value tasks.
Improving the agent experience is especially important as the transportation industry struggles to re-staff teams to pre-pandemic levels. Giving your employees the tools they need to do their jobs well and be more productive can take some of the pressure off overworked teams.
“If we were still using the tools that our company had before implementing Zendesk, even 100 staff members would not be enough to handle the current workload.”Anar Aliyev, AZAL Public Relations Specialist
Self-service is another efficiency driver. With self-service help centers and chatbots, you can empower customers to find answers to their own questions—most of which are routine, standard issues like canceling, rebooking, tracking luggage, and crediting earned miles.
You can add custom interactive apps—like seat/cabin selectors, in-message upgrade/add-ons, and SSR widgets—to take self-service one step further. Low-code and no-code tools make it quick and easy to deploy new applications, independent of the underlying infrastructure.
Ryanair’s self-service strategy combines a robust search function with a smart chatbot to help customers find information quickly and easily. Eighty percent of customers find the answers they need without contacting a customer support agent.
Similarly, AZAL has been able to stem the tide of incoming tickets with a robust help center that receives more than 9,000 views per month.
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All aboard the CX train
See how airlines, cruise lines, and passenger rail lines deliver first-class experiences with Zendesk.
All aboard the CX train
See how airlines, cruise lines, and passenger rail lines deliver first-class experiences with Zendesk.Learn more