Working in travel is unlike working in any other industry – and the customers of Travel Consultants are equally as unique – which means taking a different approach to service. Flight Centre Travel Group’s Digital Solutions Team Leader, Tom O’Neill, explores the difference.

Defining good customer service in other industries

If you read an actual breakdown of good customer service, you get an analysis of what people think it’s made of, with proactiveness, personalisation and speed among the top elements.

But there’s an old mantra in customer service: “the customer is always right”. It’s how customer service was once – and in some ways still is – defined. When things go wrong, customers want to be reimbursed and vindicated.

What makes helping customers in travel different?

If you were to define the absolute base expectation of customers in travel, it would be:

“This is what we planned, and this is what I expect to receive.”

This base expectation stays the same whether they’re first-timers or seasoned travellers.

Gone are the days of spontaneous trips and buying a ticket to a foreign country with no plan. The majority of travellers these days want their accommodation, itinerary, tickets and travel safely booked months in advance, and this expectation is especially key for customers coming to Travel Consultants and agencies for help.

Travelling can be stressful, and when things go wrong in foreign lands fear and anxiety are common reactions. So, it is crucial there be no surprises on a customer’s trip, especially if they’ve put the time and money into making everything go smoothly. Customers in travel are less about vindication and more about security.

However, life always has a way of throwing curveballs. When things go wrong, the expectation becomes:

“Change has happened – help me manage this with as little disruption as possible.”

How well a Travel Consultant deals with this is the key driver of success. All Travel Consultants are fully capable of planning an amazing trip for their customers – it’s how they are able to help customers in times of crisis that gets them noticed.

But why?

Customers remember above all else, how you made them feel. That’s why providing just what the customer expects will, 9 out of 10 times, only get you a neutral response on a feedback form.

Helping a customer resolve an issue when they’re feeling anxious can be an immense relief to them – and it’s how you can create a loyal customer even when things don’t go according to plan.

The key to resolving issues

Since you cannot physically be there to resolve a customer’s issue, the key is to have a clear understanding of the scenario and gather all the relevant information to act on it as quickly as possible. 

Our tight-knit teams at Flight Centre mean we support each other’s customers and ensure stores as a whole offer great customer service. That way, the customer always has someone to communicate with, and Travel Consultants can lean on each other for resources and support.

Flight Centre's customer-centric approach is key to the company's success. Check out our job opportunities and be part of a global team who is driven to deliver amazing travel experiences.

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