When you’re operating in a sector as fraught with challenges as aviation, having a name like ‘EasyJet’ is like making a particularly ambitious promise to your customers. John Lieghton is determined to ensure his company delivers.
The head of customer service at EasyJet based in Exeter, U.K. was among the keynotes in a virtual summit hosted by Group Futurista on CX. Though the event was held this past May, sessions were posted to YouTube for on-demand viewing earlier this month.
Leighton said that while the pandemic has created a particular level of disruption across the broader travel industry over the past year, there is an extent to which upheaval within the airline sector in particular is part for the course.
“When you move into aviation, it’s pretty much the most emotional customer experience you can imagine,” he said. “I think the first six months I at my desk, every day was incredibly different.”
EasyJet operates in seven markets across 12 sites, using three different partner organizations and employs about 2,500 full-time staff. Among the many CX challenges is legacy technology. It’s difficult to swap out one reservation system for another, Leighton explained, because there is ongoing booking activity and frontline agents that rely on them to serve passengers.
EasyJet has also recently come under new flight compensation regulation, known as EU 261, which requires customers to get when a flight is delayed due to a fault of the airline in question.
Leighton described about 30 per cent of the EasyJet customer journey being spent on the pre-flight stage of air travel, which could the moment they buy their ticket and any changes they might have to make. Another 30 per cent is spent on the day a flight happens.
“This is where ebad things can happen,” he said, “ where someone has travelled to the airport and there’s a delay.”
The remaining 40 per cent of customer contacts to the service management department involves the post-flight phase, Leighton added, particularly as EU 261 has come in to effect.
In response, Leighton’s CX vision was one based on offering the bests digital platforms (such as its app), employing “the friendliest people,” offering what he called no-nonsense disruption management and “effortless” resolution of customer problems.
Delivering on that vision has involved using a chatbot and interactive voice response (IVR) technology and feeding them with the same data to provide a consistent experience across the customer journey, Leighton said. Not surprisingly, the split between voice and digital outreach from customers has been 70/30, but the project is aimed at achieving more of a 50 per cent voice, 45 per cent chat and five per cent via e-mail, which he called its most expensive channel.
By qualifying the service issues that come in and using automation to route them to the appropriate resource, Leighton said agents are not only given customer records but recommendations for the next best actions they should take.
“We make sure our agents can almost predict what that customer needs to do,” he said.
Call script from previous conversation and next best action to solve a complaint. “The intelligence (in the system) sits behind the entire process so we can keep improving.”
This also opens up greater opportunity for value-based segmentation, Leighton added, where customers who fly more often or spend more can get a less automated, more white-glove kind of service.
So far, 63 per cent of EasyJet customers are now using some form of self-service, and the company’s models forecast a 13 per cent cost reduction this year by reducing the number of hours agents will need to work. It customer satisfaction ratings, meanwhile are on track to reach 80 per cent by the end of 2021.
The important thing in all this, he added, is to keep the execution of its CX strategy flexible based on what’s best for passengers.
“We don’t push a channel onto customer,” he said. “It’s their channel of choice.”
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.