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Three take aways from the COVID-19 crisis for an improved customer care

Don’t miss the low hanging fruits

Photo by Ryan Bruce from Burst

COVID-19 will bolster digital transformation

The impact of the coronavirus on the airline industry is severe with estimated losses of about US$ 113 billion. Demand has been weakened substantially which forces many carriers to put crews on unpaid leave and on short time.

While the number of passengers drop dramatically, airlines have to face and deal with a sudden spike of passenger claims and complaints for cancelled and delayed flights. Under the European liability regime EU261 passengers may be entitled to claim cost for accommodation and transport associated to the flight irregularity – even when extraordinary circumstances (often referred to as ‘force majeure’) exist.

The challenge for the air carriers is to handle a high volume of claims with a reduced workforce for an indefinite period of time. In that respect automation and digitization of the claims handling processes can help to put the airline in a position to handle more claims in less time and be flexible concerning the headcount and the volume of cases to be processed on a daily basis.

Once that digital shift had been implemented, there is no reason to go back to the analogue or semi-automated world if and when business is back to the ordinary.

Automated claims handling will stay competitive differentiator

Claims handling as part of the digital customer journey will stay a competitive differentiator. Airlines that have already introduced automated processes – be it through a legal tech and travel vendor or through an inhouse solution – are ahead of the curve concerning their competing airlines when it comes to flight irregularities.

Passengers expect at this day and age that the seamless customer journey covers the complete line of service from booking to filing a claim for compensation or a simple refund without communication gaps, i.e. switching from an app to a hotline, back to email and so forth.

If a carrier desires to set itself apart and clearly wants to pursue that as part of a strategic path, automated claims handling will be an essential element of that strategy.

Customer loyalty and passenger satisfaction

The cost reduction that comes with automation is important and tempting but only one aspect and good cause for getting fully automated. To avoid repetitive tasks to be handled by well-trained staff and contact center personnel but by an IT solution instead will make for additional time to get the head around more critical scenarios or more demanding passengers. It will also increase the motivation of the individual service agent as he or she will not have to attend to routine business all day long, but can focus on more sophisticated and more stimulating tasks.

At the end of the day a timely and effective claims management is a win-win situation for passengers and airlines alike which should inevitably result in happier and thus more loyal customers.


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