Top 3 CX Lessons From The Travel Industry: How the DFW Airport Serves 69M+ Passengers in Real Time

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The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has garnered a strong reputation for ensuring superior travel experiences over the past three years. Despite serving one of the most difficult customer bases — millions of tired, hungry, and stressed out travelers — the airport has leveraged data and technology to offer a best-in-class customer experience. The hospitality and travel industry is unique both in terms of how important customer experience is, and how difficult it is to offer that superior CX.

Forty-five percent of consumers cite “quality customer service” as the most important factor in choosing an airline, and 81 percent of travelers consider hotel reviews to be a highly important factor in their decision making. However, mitigating factors such as weather, delays, and technical difficulties can arise at a moment’s notice in the travel industry — making customer expectations more difficult to meet than most other industries. That’s why customer service agents need to leverage technology to meet these challenges head-on.

Main Takeaways of this article:

  • Leverage technology to offer superior customer service at scale
  • Learn from DFW Airport’s use of data and analytics
  • Meet your customers on those channels that they use anyway

Further Reading:

  1. E-book: The Beginner’s Guide to Customer Service Bots For Travel and Hospitality
  2. Make This Travel Season The Jolliest Time of Year For Your CX Team With Bots
  3. Six Reasons the Travel Industry Needs a Cohesive In-App Customer Service Plan

Three Lessons For the Travel Industry: How to Offer Best In Class Service Under Difficult Circumstances

The Dallas-Fort Worth airport distinguishes itself from other transportation hubs through its robust “Experience Center,” a centralized hub that integrates customer service and customer experience teams for every aspect of airport operations — from social media monitoring to TSA line control. As USA Today recently reported, the hub “has centralized many functions that were previously spread out across departments and locations… [and] houses representatives from just about every customer-facing agency or department at the airport.”

Here’s how the Experience Center at the Dallas airport responds in real time to customer service issues — and what travel and hospitality teams can learn from the airport’s success in this arena.

1. Meet Your Travelers Where They Are

The DFW airport prioritizes two channels: in-person interactions at the airport, and tweets from customers using the DFW hashtag or mentioning the airport. These two channels ensure that the Experience Center always meets customers where they are. For instance, if a frustrated customer tweets about running out of supplies during a flight delay, the agent monitoring social media can immediately alert an airport customer experience specialist to go to that terminal and offer supplies and assistance to the delayed travelers.

For other travel and hospitality brands, meeting your customers where they are can mean offering in-app support, messaging-based room service, AI-powered issue classification to ensure that time sensitive issues are addressed as soon as possible, or the option of interacting with a bot to find answers to commonly asked questions about, say, parking and amenities. The important thing is to ensure that whatever channel you invest in allows your team to resolve issues via your customers’ preferred method of communication.

2. Pay Attention to the Data, Quickly

The DFW Experience Center looks at expected passenger loads, weather, and other variables in order to give agents a detailed list of tasks they should complete in the terminals each day (think: added custodial services during a snowstorm to ensure that the floor isn’t slippery). Additionally, agents have a live feed of passenger numbers, weather information, fire alarms/other mitigating factors, and of course, social media. This combination of predictive and real-time data enables the team to address potential issues even before a customer complains.

Access to detailed forecasting and reporting is essential for every customer service team across industries for prioritizing issues and identifying key areas for improvement. Forecasting can help teams prepare for high volume periods, such as during the holidays, while reporting can provide customer and issue data such as frequently asked questions during specific time periods (such as a spike in express shipping questions the week before Christmas). This data allows teams to maintain a high caliber of support regardless of whether or not it’s a peak time for inquiries. Additionally, this helps teams respond to unexpected issues, such as unforeseen weather changes, quickly and effectively.

3. Keep “Service” and “Experience” in the same bucket

Unlike other airports where different teams are siloed, at DFW, TSA planners sit next to customer care specialists, and work together to solve problems that range from airline load factors to custodial schedules to social media mentions. Other travel and hospitality brands can similarly integrate customer experience and customer support into the same bucket. This can be achieved by creating a feedback loop between teams to ensure that the customer journey is fully integrated with support.

Leverage The Latest Tech to Provide Better Customer Service At Scale

Saving time is the name of the game — for teams and customers alike. For some customer service teams, like the team at DFW airport, that means monitoring live feeds and operations dashboards to get ahead of customer issues. Time-savings can be further achieved by promoting self-service through capabilities like bots, using AI tools to categorize issues as they arise, and keeping an eye on analytics for improvements over time.

The most important lesson to take away from DFW, though, is that offering the best customer experience at scale (remember: DFW serves millions of travelers!) will always depend in part on leveraging the best technology. To learn more about how AI-powered technology can help the hospitality and travel industry, download The Beginner’s Guide to Customer Service Bots for Travel and Hospitality.

Published January 17, 2019
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