If you’re a stereotypical traveler, you love arriving at your destination but could do without the actual “getting there.” Lost luggage. Delays. Security. Broken air-conditioning (and 30 minutes of sheer suffocation on the tarmac…don’t even get me started.) The list goes on and on.
For airlines, there are typically two critical points of contact with the customer – when the individual is considering a ride on the airline and is in the price-comparison and scheduling stage. And, when a customer goes through with booking a flight and needs further assistance (i.e. request an earlier flight, report a lost bag or delay.)
We’ve all been there: in layover or needing to talk to someone now. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen? There’s a line at check-in. A long one. And we’re put on hold for 15 minutes on our cell phone until we call defeat, and maybe make that last-ditch attempt to email the company through the generic site contact or take it to Twitter to (hopefully) get an immediate, and hyper-friendly response.
Smart airlines know this. Even smarter airlines do something about it.
British airline Virgin Atlantic, which services passengers across the Atlantic, Asia, and Caribbean, “has always lived and died by their ability to differentiate,” observes Edwin Stonestreet of LivePerson, a platform enabling businesses to connect with customers real-time via live chat, content, and voice solutions.
LivePerson’s relationship with Virgin Atlantic began in the sales capacity in 2009 and expanded when, according to Stonestreet, Virgin sought a way to “humanize” the customer/agent interaction last September.
By deploying LivePerson’s LP Chat solution, which drives intelligent chat sessions across multiple channels like websites, social media, and mobile devices, Virgin Atlantic saw its conversion rates increase 3.5 times with an average order value that went up 15 percent. Not only has the solution had a positive impact on ticket sale conversion rates, customers are no longer at the mercy of backlogs of emails and phone wait times.
“We’ve taken a massive chunk out of their email queues,” Stonestreet adds. Where the airline used to have 15 India-based agents responding to customer needs, which did not produce the most optimal customer experience, “they’ve now got that down to eight agents who are delivering better first-contact resolution…it also means they [eliminate] massive spikes in volume because the chat agents are able to manage, and plan resources better.”
According to John Giddings, Virgin Atlantic’s general manager of contact centers in the U.S.and UK, “LP Chat has become a core feature of our customer service program, particularly in crisis situations, allowing us to reach a large number of customers with personalized support.”
LivePerson has worked with Virgin beyond studying points like customer’s time on a page or how someone’s navigated. “We’re looking at geolocation, we’re actively looking at the Virgin Atlantic database to see which flights are underbooked, and we’re prioritizing which flights they want to focus on,” Stonestreet says.
Stonestreet says another area for ROI using live chat – that’s fairly difficult to illustrate, but which represents a significant cost savings for organizations – comes in the form of attrition rates. In the UK, the per annum call center attrition rate is about 47 to 49 percent. In the “chat world,” as Stonestreet describes it, the attrition rate is a much lower 14 percent, he says.
“A lot of that [has to do with the] mobile labor force, students only being there for peak-season, etc., but when you think about the cost of recruiting and training individuals, one of the most significant costs to businesses is staffing,” he adds.