‘Customer experience is the challenge of recovery.’ – McKinsey

Of all the sectors disrupted by the recent pandemic, few were as negatively impacted as the travel and hospitality industry. COVID-19 brought the sector to a near-standstill from which it has still not recovered completely. According to the UNWTO, in the middle of 2022, international travel stood at 46% of its pre-COVID levels.

There is no doubt that, while the UN’s figures show strong demand returning now that borders are open again, the road to full recovery will be a long one. Changing habits in the workplace have meant that recovery in the travel and hospitality industries is being almost exclusively driven by leisure. Business-related travel is taking much longer to return to pre-pandemic levels as companies have realised the savings they can make without significant operational disruption. 

Enhancing their CX offering will best-place companies to ride the wave of recovery and optimise their own futures. 

Customer experience is a critical metric in uncertain times

There is clearly a renewed desire among consumers for travel, with 71% of Europeans saying they intended to travel in the summer of 2022. However, as the sector struggles to cope with rapidly rising demand after large numbers of people left the industry, McKinsey has reported a rise in negative sentiment. Customer experience is where companies are going to win the battle for customers’ loyalty in a changed landscape. 

‘Companies that prioritise CX can gain loyalty, build resilience, and future-proof their businesses. – McKinsey 

Digital CX transformation is essential to deal with expectations that have evolved from the start to the end of the customers’ journey. Customers now expect to be able to talk to travel, accommodation, and experience providers from multiple contact points at every stage – and they want the process to be seamless throughout. 

Furthermore, it’s not just customers who need the CX solution to work optimally. With increased numbers of employees preferring to work remotely – an overwhelming 97% would like the option at least some of the time – CRM solutions need to work efficiently and give geographically disparate agents access to all the info and tools they need. Ideally, even in a 100% remote workforce, customers don’t notice the difference.  

‘The right CX solution will enable everything from comprehensive contactless digital interactions to better analytics, so you can make informed decisions about customer service in the future.’ – CX Today 

How to emerge from the current challenging landscape and drive success

An indication of the importance that analysts place on digital and data solutions to the challenges facing the sector is the amount of published material on the subject. Forrester produced a report on the criticality of such solutions to the survival of companies in the sector, while McKinsey produced some actionable advice on CX specifically: 

  • Understand your customers individually. This is the only way to personalise CX for them in what is one of the most personal of industries. 
  • Remember that CX journeys do not start and end with the customers’ actual journeys. Effective and optimal CX begins with the very first contact and extends beyond the end of the booking. 
  • Companies in myriad sectors have had to be agile to survive the COVID-19 crisis. That agility is an asset going forward and should be leveraged to drive CX in a changed landscape. 

A model of what CX transformation can do

redk customer Baleària provides an outstanding example of how digital CX transformation can provide a frictionless, omnichannel experience for customers in a traditionally non-digital sector. 

Baleària is a sector leader, employing over 1,800 people, operating 30 ships in the Mediterranean, and generating €452 million in revenue. Like many others operating in the industry, Baleària faced the challenge of dependency on high occupancy rates during a period, particularly during the height of the pandemic when it was essentially non-existent. Furthermore, its client base is varied across B2B, B2C, and B2B2C, and they operate in different sectors and with different modes of transport. 

Our team at redk assisted Baleària in its implementation of a Zendesk and Laiye solution in an ambitiously broad, tactical approach. In just four months, processes were streamlined and simplified for customers, staff, and the executive team, ultimately providing a positive experience across all channels. 

Customer experience experts

At redk, we have over 15 years’ experience leveraging technology to provide effective omnichannel CX, sales performance optimisation, and automation. We build in efficiency, provide actionable insights and deliver solutions that surpass your customers’ expectations. Talk to us to see what we can do for you.