As with all travel providers, our client, one of the world’s largest airlines, faced tough challenges as a result of Covid-19 restrictions easing and the re-opening of business as usual, including needing to efficiently resolve an increased complaints backlog driven by mass cancellation and disruption.
The airline faced a number of issues: difficulty in recruiting customer service agents and ground crew; increased sickness and attrition; forced cancellations due to airport restrictions; a significant increase in EU261 claims due to delays; ongoing weather disruption; and rising customer expectations.
This resulted in the airline’s customer relations staff having to manually deal with a rapidly increasing backlog of complaints, which was having a direct impact on its operational processes, as well as colleagues’ health and wellbeing.
And while the airline was able to implement a number of operational interventions to tackle the backlog, these were short-term fixes and not sustainable in the long term, ultimately leading to more customer frustration and dissatisfaction.
The airline needed a trusted and collaborative partner that could work with it in an agile way to identify opportunities to improve its complaints handling process.
The Capita team set to work. We analysed the airline’s data to identify opportunities to enable the automation of complaints handling and improved containment – this was done by resolving the BAU queries without the need for human interaction, providing a 24/7 option.
We took a consulting-led, data driven approach to truly understand the challenges. Our core consulting capabilities allowed us to focus on process efficiency, enhanced customer experience and insight to inform and drive future strategic direction. Through the discovery phase Capita identified the opportunities that looked at all stages of the customer complaints journey; these were prioritised in terms of size of benefit and difficulty.
The chosen approach followed two parallel work streams: 1) Natural Language Processing (NLP) – structuring unstructured data to reduce case handling time for the agent through quicker case assessment, and to be able to identify single issue cases that impacted a number of customers, leading to improved allocation, and 2) robotic process automation (RPA) – to automate manual processes to create further capacity in the Customer Relations team.
This resulted in faster resolution and improved closure rates with an improved ROI, making sure that human intervention could be used for the most challenging queries. This minimised the backlog and ensured agents only dealt with cases that required human intervention while routine administration could be automated, increasing the ability to self-serve.
Further to this, we improved the stability of the airline’s operations, enabling a smoother experience for both customers and agents alike that focused on first call resolution.
The airline now has fewer frustrated customers, along with agents who are less stressed and can therefore deal with their tasks more productively.
By reducing the backlog and improving the processes going forward, there was a better customer experience and more promptness in dealing with complaints – not to mention the consequential cost and operational savings. Overall customer satisfaction was improved, and the total number of complaints was reduced.
The increase in automation has helped to free up staff from time-consuming and often error-prone administrative tasks, leaving them more time to focus on value-added activities.
The results speak for themselves: due to the improved processes, our client saw a 25% reduction in cases; 10%-20% fewer inbound calls (thanks to the automation); and over 7,000 hours of backlog were removed, with 200 hours per week saved.