Michael Perryman, Amadeus Regional Customer Services Manager for Western Europe, Middle East and Africa is a customer service strategist who is taking Amadeus’s customer service offering to the next level.
We spoke to Michael about the global trends in customer service and how Amadeus is shaping the future of customer service as it responds to its customer’s needs.
What are the global trends in customer service?
Self-Service is the big trend, with more and more customers globally able to service their needs themselves through online mechanisms rather than by phoning through to a call centre for assistance.
For Amadeus customers, the Amadeus e-Support Centre provides the self-service tools they need to resolve many issues. Our e-Support Centre is continually evolving as technology develops and new customer service trends emerge.
Another trend is the move to online learning, customers increasingly preferring to view a video or take an online eLearning course to upskill themselves. Again this has an impact on the support volume, as customers are now beginning to look for information online via videos instead of using a phone call to our help desks. To support this, we are in the process developing a host of training videos, some of which are already available through our e-Support Centre, that enable our customers to see very quickly how to perform a function within the GDS.
Moving forward, we aim to make our e-Support Centre the primary channel for support and learning.
What are customers insisting on when it comes to customer service and how is Amadeus responding?
The biggest demand coming through is ease of finding information. There’s a lot of information available online and one of our challenges has been to ensure that customers can access information quickly and easily,and that what they find is relevant to them. We therefore continually evolve our search mechanism and review trends to ensure that the responses being returned match current trends in terms of what our customers are searching for.
We also invest time and resources to ensure the information on our system remains relevant and up-to-date.
What are Amadeus customers preferred methods of communication?
While telephone communication is still dominant in many markets, we are seeing a general decrease in favour of online support, which we believe is coupled with the rise of social media. With more and more people prepared to communicate and search for information using social media, it is now becoming the norm for certain demographics to turn first to an online forum for assistance, which with social media continuing to grow, we believe will result in more demographics following the trend.
In terms of online support, we are in the process of developing an ‘Ask Me’ type forum on our e-Support site – similar to a Facebook page – where customers will be able to post questions and other customers will be able to respond.
Do you differentiate between online travel agencies and bricks and mortar travel agents when it comes to customer service?
We support our online travel agency customers very similarly to how we support our off-line travel agencies in terms of the service standards we deliver. However, what we want to do in the future is clearly differentiate the two as they have very different customer service needs. To better meet the needs of our online travel agency customers we will be creating specialised teams that have been trained to better understand and support their unique business requirements.
Can you give some examples of these different customer service needs?
Bricks and mortar travel agencies generally work normal business hours and therefore mostly require our services during the day. Online travel agencies, on the other hand, do most of their business outside of core business hours. Therefore, to provide them with the levels of service they are accustomed to from Amadeus, we have set up a global helpdesk that is based in several locations around the world so that our customers are guaranteed support 24/7.
Are you developing any new tools specifically for Amadeus’s online travel agency customers?
Not so much in reactive support but tools that enable us to provide proactive support. These tools will enable us to identify potential issues before they arise. For example, in instances where a flight or availability isn’t being returned or the website itself is not directing our clients’ customers to the correct place, we want far more robust tools that can pre-identify the issue for us and either resolve it or enable us to inform our customer about it before they encounter the problem themselves.
How are you upskilling local support staff so that they can provide better support to your customers?
The travel industry environment is becoming more complex with more products and solutions coming to market. Our support to market has traditionally been geared to resolving GDS issues. Going forward, we want to provide consultative support, whereby our customer service agents are trained not only to resolve GDS queries but are also equipped with a deep understanding of the complexities of the travel industry environment so that they can suggest potential solutions to customers that will enhance their business operations.