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Customers First Issue 3

Global insights on strategy & innovation

How JetBlue keeps its (customers) cool in a crisis Interview with JetBlue’s customer commitment and social media manager | P.13

The rise of white-glove customer service How to transform loyal customers into proactive brand advocates | P.4

The sharing economy and the future of travel and hospitality The symbiotic relationship between disrupter and disrupted | P.8

Tailoring service by demographic Why meeting the differing needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials is key | P.18









Contents 4



The rise of white-glove customer service


How JetBlue keeps its (customers) cool in a crisis

Companies are stepping up their game

Interview with Laurie Meacham, cus-

to transform loyal customers into proac-

tomer commitment and social media

tive brand advocates.

manager at JetBlue.

Why Las Vegas is a sure bet for outsourcing


Using data to gain a 360-degree customer view

The city best known for its casinos is

What the travel industry is doing today

now making a name for itself in the

to attain, and utilize, a full understand-

BPO industry.

ing of their customers.

A better traveler customer experience, thanks to the sharing


Why tailoring to each demographic is key for great customer service


Meeting the differing needs of Baby

A closer look at the symbiotic relation-

Boomer and Millennial travelers.

ship between disrupter and disrupted.


Three ways contact centers can localize the customer experience Insights from our own contact center experience as well as industry experts.


The big picture A stunning sunset overlooking San Ignacio, Chalatenango in El Salvador.

TELUS International

Have you ever noticed that when you visit a Disney resort, their employees (otherwise known as cast members) rarely ever point? In fact, employees at Disney are trained not to point with just one finger, because in several cultures, pointing is considered rude. To point or not to point seems like such a small detail, but it’s exactly this type of detail that impresses customers most. Disney focuses on exceeding customer expectations with what they call “little WOWs.” Big WOWs are expensive and hard to sustain, but Kona, Hawaii – Chuck Koskovich, with wife Michele, on a recent dream vacation

Dream vacations – supported by the “magic of process”

little WOWs involve minor, inexpensive details that serve to surprise and delight customers. In general, the opportunity to create “little WOWs” in the travel and hospitality industry is huge. And that’s why we’re excited to dedicate this issue of our Customers First magazine entirely to travel and hospitality best practices. In this issue, you’ll discover insights

Whether you travel a lot or a little, we all

excited to join the TELUS International

from industry experts and top brands

dream of that perfect getaway – when

family this year as their Chief Operat-

like JetBlue, Turo, Joie de Vivre Hospi-

everything goes exactly as planned –

ing Officer – especially as we look to

tality and Lux* Resorts and Hotels.

flights connect on time, the rental car is

enhance our BPO service offering to

brand new, the hotel upgrades you to a

the travel and hospitality industry. As a

inspired to talk to us further about cre-

better room, the restaurant is five star,

self-proclaimed ‘Operations and Cus-

ating “WOW” moments for customers,

the staff knows you by name and so on.

tomer Service guy,’ I want to decode

just as my wife Michele and I received

While I love the end result of great

great customer service experiences

from Sunshine Helicopters on a recent

customer service, what fascinates me

to see if they are global, sustainable,

visit to Kona, Hawaii.

most is the process behind it all – the

repeatable, efficient, and importantly,

operations, the standards, the training,


We hope you enjoy this issue and are

Enjoy the read!

the quality assurance, the discipline

I also take inspiration from other

and rigor and all of the other factors

admirable global brands across all in-

Chuck Koskovich

that go into achieving a desired service

dustries that seem to have cracked the

Chief Operating Officer


code on what it means to delight cus-

TELUS International

tomers. Take the iconic Disney brand.


That’s a big reason why I was so

Customers First | 3

Noteworthy advises Ron Kaufman, consultant and New York Times bestselling author of Uplifting Service. “Personalization and memorization deal with the fact that airlines or hotel brands should already know something about who I am and what I like.” Kaufman goes on to observe that hospitality brands are realizing the need to examine and improve their performance in the area of anticipation. “Take hotels, which [often] don’t anticipate any future travel needs at checkout. It would be so simple to let the next hotel know that I prefer a certain pillow type, for instance, and have those pillows waiting for me along with a note from

The rise of white-glove customer service

housekeeping confirming my preference,” he says. Using information about a specific request to anticipate future ones is critical in an era where on-demand apps and 24-hour access to brands

Customer loyalty is a powerful mar-

Companies ahead of the curve

are raising customers’ expectations.

keting force that travel and hospitality

recognize the critical role that customer

“Customers are delighted when brands

businesses are always chasing.

service plays in winning people over,

care more about them than how much

and the best travel and hospitality

they’re paying and what time they’re

customer exists: The brand evangelist,

brands are stepping up their game with

checking out,” Kaufman says.

described as the kind of traveler who

white-glove service and concierge con-

feels so connected to a company that

tact centers to transform travelers from

Turning loyalty members into evan-

they proactively share their positive

simply being loyal, to being proactive


experiences with others.

brand advocates.

In its 2017 travel and hospitality out-

But a whole other degree of devoted

look, Deloitte predicts that customer

In today’s connected world, customer service experiences — espe-

Four factors for exceptional service

experience will make a much bigger

cially the bad ones — often spread like

Technology today is expanding the

impact than loyalty programs on cus-

wildfire. For companies in the travel and

definition (and capabilities) of white-

tomer retention. Dave Murray, senior

hospitality industry, this presents new

glove customer service for travel and

customer experience consultant at The

challenges in terms of managing their

hospitality brands across the board.

DiJulius Group consulting firm, agrees.

reputation. However, smart companies

“White-glove service is about four

“Consumers aren’t going to continually

see this as an opportunity to create

things: personalization, memorization,

subject themselves to poor customer

brand evangelists.

anticipation and response to requests,”

service or experience just because

4 | Customers First

TELUS International there’s a free flight or stay at the end

what went wrong, and figure out how

view of the customer, and empowering

of the tunnel,” says Murray. “Organiza-

to make people happy again. Today

them to think independently and ex-

tions can have great rewards programs,

there’s a shift, where hospitality brands

periment. “You need to create a culture

but it’s not sustainable long-term if the

want call centers to drive the customer

inside that concierge contact center

service is poor.”

relationship, anticipate future needs and

where people can try new things, then

offer personalized service.”

share what worked and what didn’t,”

Kaufman points to a resort brand based out of Mauritius called LUX*,

What’s more, travel brands that

Kaufman advises. “Brands shouldn’t

whose vision for its loyalty members

focus on call center service can signifi-

be compulsive about everybody having

is to make every moment matter. “At

cantly impact revenue per traveler, also

to follow a script. Passengers and

LUX*, they’ll keep track of things like

known as “Revenue Management” in

customers know when somebody is

whether loyalty members did yoga or

the travel industry, says Dr. Kevin Mur-

scripted, and that’s not what they’re

signed up for an art class,” he explains.

phy, the hospitality department chair

looking for,” he says. “Travelers want

“So, when they arrive on their next stay,

at University of Central Florida’s (UCF)

real, human interaction. Agents need

there’s a yoga mat or even art supplies

Rosen College of Hospitality Manage-

the freedom to try different conversa-

waiting for them in the

ment. For instance, airlines

tions, up-sell and cross-sell ideas with

room,” says Kaufman. “If

face low profit margins per

customers on the fly.” That requires

customer due in large part

engaged team members who feel a

to massive overhead costs,

real connection for the brand they’re

but Allegiant Airlines is


you travel with kids often, they might put some toys in the room. Those are exactly the kind of customized things that brands can do to create evangelists. That’s not about points or perks, that’s about the special experience that members

The merging of contact center and concierge functions — making restaurant reservations, booking entertainment and coordinating local transportation — is already taking place today.

will positively associate with that brand,” he says.

successfully leveraging their call center to become one

Customer service and storytelling

of the highest-margin carri-

At its core, brand evangelism is shared

ers in the United States.

through stories. “If you go online and

If a customer calls

see something rated highly with lots of

Allegiant about an issue re-

five-star reviews — whether it’s a hotel,

garding an upcoming flight

resort, airline or even —

to Orlando, for example, the call center

you still look at the reviews,” concludes

agent might try to up-sell a car rental

Kaufman. “What you’re looking for is

The contact center as a concierge

along with tickets to Disney World.

‘What’s the story?’ What happened to

The merging of contact center and con-

Although this isn’t a direct sale of an

that person, and is there something in

cierge functions — making restaurant

Allegiant product or service, they still

that story that sounds like, feels like or

reservations, booking entertainment

take a cut of the revenue. “That’s where

could have been me?”

and coordinating local transportation —

[Allegiant’s] incremental profits come

is already taking place today.

from,” Murphy notes. “Revenue man-

tell those customer service stories, and

agement is basically the art of providing

they’re highly relatable, because so

functions to provide highly personalized

great guest service, and combining it

much about travel is universal. And as

and differentiated service when people

with the art of making additional sales

the positive stories pile up, they begin

call in for support. “Under the old par-

over time.”

to pay dividends over time, especially

Travel brands are combining the two

adigm, customer service was consid-

For Kaufman, creating a concierge

Kaufman says that travelers love to

online. “That’s exactly why improved

ered ‘playing defense,’” says Murray.

contact center is about giving agents

service translates into hospitality brand

“The call center was there to defend

the tools they need to get a 360-degree

evangelism,” Kaufman says. Customers First | 5

On the road

Casinos – A significant draw for many tourists, the gaming industry is one of the primary drivers of the city’s economy bringing in more than $72 million a year in revenue, according to the University of Las Vegas.

Hot air balloons – There are plenty of other tourist attractions for those uninterested in slot machines including a visit to the Neon Museum, a tour of the Hoover Dam or catching the desert sunset from a hot air balloon.

6 | Customers First

TELUS International The Las Vegas Strip – The four-mile long row of hotels and mega casinos is the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world, according to Travel and Leisure.

Elvis Presley – One of the most iconic entertainers to ever be associated with the city. Tourists can still enjoy Elvis tribute shows, see artifacts from his residency in Las Vegas and even get married in the Graceland Wedding Chapel by an “Elvis” officiant.

Why Las Vegas is a sure bet for outsourcing Neon lights, slot machines, Elvis impersonators, these are just a few of the im-

This popular onshore location serves

ages that come to mind at the mention

as an ideal option for companies seek-

of Las Vegas, Nevada.

ing customer care, technical support,

The city is known as a global leader

sales support and back-office services.

in hospitality, welcoming an impressive

And with its low risk for natural disaster,

30 million visitors every year. But thanks

Las Vegas offers the added assurance

to its innate foundation in customer

of business continuity and operations

service and an impressive talent pool of


English and Spanish speaking citizens, Mojave Desert – Las Vegas is surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides and enjoys a subtropical desert climate with very warm summers and brief, mild winters.

Outsourcing industry.

So, while you may not win at the

Las Vegas’ reputation now extends well

blackjack table, you can’t go wrong

beyond its famous strip to encompass

selecting Las Vegas as an outsourcing

the ever-growing Business Process

destination. Customers First | 7

Industry focus

A better traveler customer experience, thanks to the sharing economy In a very short time, the sharing economy has changed how customers rent office space, find parking, ride bikes and book travel accommodations. Companies like Airbnb and Lyft have served as disrupters to “traditional” options like hotels and car-rental agencies, with newspaper headlines often pitting them against each other as if it were a battle. The truth is, however, that it’s actually an opportunity for both to learn from one another, all in the name of better customer experience. Changing customer needs Sharing economy companies have been quick to tune into the evolving needs of customers. More and more consumers are looking for sustainability, ease of use, cost effectiveness, and perhaps the most sought after feature: unique, personalized and authentic experiences. Take Turo, for example. The San Francisco-based peer-to-peer car-sharing company allows customers to rent any car they want, from a Nissan hatchback to a Lamborghini. The car owners often deliver the vehicle themselves and can share suggestions for driving routes and stops along the way. “The typical, traditional car-rental experience is much more cookie-cutter,” says Trevor Humphrey, a director of customer support at Turo. “This is much more personal.” 8 | Customers First

TELUS International or risk being left behind. Adapting to the sharing economy Traditional travel and hospitality companies have taken learnings from the sharing economy and started applying them to their own approach to personalization and digitalization. “If you look at how hotels are combating [the sharing economy], they are trying to bring the local experience into their hotels,” says James Geneau, the director of marketing at Benbria, a hospitality engagement app that enables guests to quickly communicate with hotel staff. Geneau points to how hotels, for example, localize their restaurants with beers on tap from nearby breweries. He Paris, France – View of an Airbnb apartment interior

also notes how major hotel chains are introducing “sub-chains,” like Hyatt’s

has evolved dramatically, and compa-

Unbound Collection or Marriott’s Auto-

travel accommodations by allowing

nies have had to evolve with the boom

graph Collection, which try and create

guests not just to live like locals, but to

in digital tools. Keyless unlocking,

their own individual identity and brand-

choose temporary homes that reflect

integration with multiple transport apps

ing. “All of those are about keeping the

the distinct experience they want.

and one-way car-sharing are some of

unique experience in each location and

Airbnb has recently taken this one step

the ways Communauto has modernized

not creating uniformity across all their

further through the recently launched

its service.

properties,” adds Geneau.

It’s similar to how Airbnb upended

Airbnb Experiences, a service which turns regular people into tour guides.

With new types of sharing economy

Susie Grynol, president of the Hotel

companies entering the scene almost

Association of Canada, says that desire

daily, companies like Communauto and

to create unique experiences also

Speed of service

ZipCar aren’t just competing against car

drills down to the smaller aspects of a

In today’s on-demand world, customers

ownership anymore, but also a wider

customer’s stay. “The range and quality

want authentic experiences and they

array of car-sharing options. Someone

of amenities continues to improve. Each

want them now. “It’s the speed that

who wants to do an IKEA run may use

stay becomes more personalized, from

counts more with the digitalization of

a ZipCar, while opting for an Uber or

pillow preference to express check out,

the exchange and the relation with the

Lyft to bring their cat to the vet. The

as hotels seek to understand what’s

customer,” says Marco Viviani, public

ease of use and on-demand nature of

important to a guest,” she says.

relations director of Communauto, a

the latter services have transformed

Montreal-based car-sharing company.

customer expectations of what a good

What the sharing economy can

Since Communauto’s inception in 1994,

service should deliver, and all travel and


the world’s relationship with computers

hospitality companies must keep pace,

While traditional travel and hospitaliCustomers First | 9

Industry focus

ty companies are learning from, and

This kind of concierge service helps to

adapting to, their disrupters, there is

professionalize the sharing economy

an opportunity for sharing economy

and speed up customer support.

companies to do the same. “One of the learning curves for the sharing

The customer wins

economy is, how do you manage a

The long-term success of shar-

bad experience properly? How do you

ing-economy companies doesn’t mean

respond other than simply giving them

the failure of more traditional compa-

a refund?” asks Geneau. “[Hotels] have

nies. Rather, the relationship between

had the equipment and the skill set to

disrupter and disrupted can be far more

manage those bad experiences quick-

symbiotic in nature, with each group

ly, and to resolve them to the guests’

learning from the other — in turn upping

satisfaction, a lot longer.”

the overall customer experience.

The sharing economy would do well

“What both entities are doing in

to consider how to use its service mod-

different ways is offering a guest expe-

els to help customers in a similar way.

rience that is tailored to the needs of

Companies seeking to merge the Airb-

that specific voyage,” says Grynol. “The

nb-type experience with hotel-level ser-

lesson is that all businesses, hotels

vice are starting to pop up. For exam-

included, need to be laser-focused on

ple, Sonder is a vacation property rental

continuous improvements, with the

start-up which hires a local concierge

guest experience at the center, in order

to attend to guests’ on-location needs.

to thrive in a competitive market.”

10 | Customers First

“One of the learning curves for the sharing economy is, how do you manage a bad experience properly? How do you respond other than simply giving them a refund?” James Geneau Director of Marketing Benbria

TELUS International

Three ways contact centers can localize the customer experience Flight delays. Booking or check-in prob-

1. Controlling for region-

lems. Regional, cultural and linguistic

al differences

differences. The travel and hospitality

Leonardo Inghilleri, pres-

business can be a perfect storm for

ident and founder of

contact centers, offering both added

Inghilleri Consultants Group

challenges and unique opportunities.

and the author of ‘Excep-

Not only are the purchases made

tional Service, Exceptional

can help bridge the gap. Contact centers can play a vital role in easing customer effort by providing an exceptional customer experience before a customer even leaves their home.

But when it comes to the travel and hospitality industry, it can be difficult to consistently anticipate the language and culture of the customer on the other end

by customers often constrained by

Profit,’ believes that great

budgets and very specific travel sched-

service delivery comes

ules, but also the buying cycles can be

down to managing expectations right

complex with many travel options to

from the start. “What do you expect

to keep track of patterns and season-

consider and compare.

from a call center? You expect people

ality in customer behavior, allowing

with excellent communication skills,

them to staff and train accordingly. For

in easing customer effort by providing

you expect people who speak your

example, some of the busiest travel

an exceptional customer experience

language and understand the cultural

days for Americans are Fridays in July

before a customer even leaves their

nuances of you as a customer, you

and August, with many looking to take

home. From our own contact center

expect people who remember your

advantage of a long weekend. For

industry experience and the insights of

preferences,” he says.

UK travelers, February 12 is a popular

Contact centers can play a vital role

industry experts, here are three ways

Inghilleria explains that some degree

of the line before starting to interact.

Fortunately, contact centers are able

option for families thanks to a mid-year

contact centers can deliver a localized

of cultural and language alignment is

school break for students. By acknowl-

experience to each and every traveler.

necessary, adding that regional offices

edging these travel patterns, contact Customers First | 11

Concierge customer service doesn’t have to be a complicated endeavor. According to Chip Conley, the founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, it can be as simple as an email newsletter sent prior to arrival. “Say it’s a hotel company. If every hotel in the chain came up with a list of five hidden treasures or tips for guests — either in the facility or in the surrounding environment — such that there was a URL that a call center agent could email customers, that would have the same effect [as making personal recommendations],” says Conley. “That doesn’t mean the call centers need to be acclimated to all the special secrets of every location, but they can help direct people.” Inghilleri, adds that contact centers

centers are able to offer appropriate

providers, including The Four Seasons

suggestions and travel tips to meet the

and Hilton, accomplish this by offer-

can always facilitate a connection and

specific needs of their customers.

ing significantly discounted rates for

a positive customer service experience,


by adding that personalized and human

2. Routing customers differently

Another way to build a stronger con-

touch. “Whenever you can do so,

Another opportunity to create a per-

nection with the customer is through

humanize the experience and connect

sonal and localized experience is by

affinity routing, or matching customers

with the customer on a personal level,

orienting the customer, even before

with agents who have similar interests.

and those minor cultural differences

they reach their destination. In recent

Dykes says some brands have begun

kind of disappear,” he says. “You can

years, and especially among higher-end

experimenting with affinity routing as

show that you remember and under-

providers, it has become more common

an option when employee travel is not

stand their preferences, that you know

for brands to give employees an oppor-

plausible. For example, a customer

what’s important to them and you’re

tunity to travel.

planning a golf trip would likely prefer

willing to satisfy their needs on a human

to speak with a customer service agent

level. That’s all it takes.”

By experiencing the destination and

While contact center staff in the

facilities themselves, customer ser-

who follows the sport, even if they hav-

vice representatives are able to build a

en’t been to the destination in question.

travel and hospitality industry face some

personal knowledge base that trans-

“You’d want advisers who have some

unique challenges, there are an increas-

lates to better customer service. “It’s

understanding of the game of golf —

ing number of technological and orga-

great when you’re talking to someone

not in that country necessarily, but in

nizational solutions that are aiding in the

who can say ‘I’ve been there,’” says

terms of what’s going on in the sport,”

management of that complexity. In the

Brendan Dykes, the director of strate-

he says.

end, however, an exceptional customer experience comes down to making a

gic marketing for Genesys, a customer engagement and relationship manage-

3. Finding common ground

personal and human connection at any

ment provider. Many hotel and airline

Localizing the experience for customers


12 | Customers First

TELUS International

How JetBlue keeps its (customers) cool in a crisis

Airlines invest a lot in their aircraft, cabin product and services — but all that money has no currency with customers when things go wrong. With a brand that emphasizes a refreshing wit balanced with a laser focus on customer service, JetBlue has remained at the top of the industry. We spoke with Laurie Meacham, customer commitment and social media manager for JetBlue, to find out what it takes to turn challenging travel experiences into opportunities for customer delight.

Q: How would JetBlue describe its

Our brand values have been in place

ty-control process. When we work with

brand character?

for years and include being stylish,

our team that engages with customers,

A: Our brand character is really import-

smart, fun and witty. We want to main-

be it at the counters or on the phone

ant to us and it’s something that we

tain the same look and feel that we

or through social media, we want to

make clear across channels. Whether

established when we started 17 years

ensure our responses are hitting the

you’re seeing an ad in the subway or


right tone.

communicating with JetBlue one-on-

Our customer experience team has

one on Twitter, we want that voice to

Q: How does JetBlue establish a

three words to guide them: person-

have integrity and to feel like it’s the

standard tone for communication?

al, simple and helpful. If a customer

same company across touch points.

A: It’s part of our training and the quali-

has had a really bad day and they Customers First | 13

Success stories are experiencing a flight delay, or an experience that is not great, we’re not going to respond to them with something that doesn’t show empathy. We want to make sure that our contacts are personal and that we are really mirroring what our customers are offering us. Q: How does JetBlue encourage free thinking and improvisation for representatives to go “off script” when unique situations arise? A: It starts with the hiring process. We screen for voice and we look for the people who can express their individuality and uniqueness. We don’t use a lot of scripts or templates for our responses and we encourage the team to be personable and to use their own creativity and humanity. This can be a bit of a challenge for some people, but others embrace it. Those are the types of people that we like to hire. We want

delays and frustrations that occur

ers on social platforms like Twitter?

them to be comfortable using their own

during travel?

A: A lot of our customers are using

voice but also to know that they are

A: We look at these kinds of complaints

social media just as a place to vent.

representing JetBlue. The way we refer

as a chance to showcase our humanity

They’re not always looking for an

to that is, “Be you, but be you in Blue.”

and our empathy with the situation that

answer from us. [Others] want to know

customers are going through. Air travel

why a flight is delayed, or when a flight

Q: What special recruiting and

can have a lot of unpredictable situa-

is going to depart, or what their options

training processes are involved in

tions. A lot of the time our customers

are if they don’t want to take that flight

building great customer support

don’t necessarily care what the cause

anymore. Those are the people we can


is; they care that their plans are being


A: We understand that we can train

disrupted, and that’s not fun for any-

skills, but we can’t really train person-

body. We really like it when we are able

about smart engagement. If you have

alities. We want to hire the person who

to turn a situation around for someone

information or anything that might help

can work well under pressure, who can

who is having a bad experience to a

the customer feel better, that’s great.

multi-task and who has a passion for

more pleasant one, just by listening and

But if you want to tell them something

JetBlue and our brand.


they already know, and isn’t going to

[We] talk to our team constantly

[better] the situation, then that’s not the Q: What’s your strategy for deal-

Q: How do you know when - and

ing with the inevitable challenges,

when not - to engage with custom-

14 | Customers First

best opportunity to engage. There have been times when some-

TELUS International questions, or as we call them, SAQs. These are generally when a customer understands the guidelines, but they don’t understand how those guidelines apply to them personally. Q: In what ways are staff empowered to make decisions to help relieve passenger stress? A: Our [contact center] team has the same ability and the same level of empowerment to offer something that any other front line personnel can offer, and our crew members have the same ability to offer something that customers would get if they called 1-800-JetBlue. We don’t want there to be a big discrepancy between support channels. For example, there was a customer who had arrived at the airport early for her flight only to find out when she got there that she would have to wait three hours [due to a storm]. She tweeted jokingly at JetBlue “give me some “It’s easy for customers to find answers to common questions but we make sure we’re available for the seldom-asked questions, or as we call them, SAQs.”

pizza.” The [social] team took note of her name and confirmed what flight she was on and what airport she was in. They notified the airport [staff] saying, “There’s a customer sitting there waiting

Laurie Meacham Customer Commitment and Social Media Manager at JetBlue

for a three-hour delay and she mentioned pizza... just FYI.” The airport staff ended up ordering

one is waiting for a flight and was not

Q: What is JetBlue’s approach to

pizza for everyone on that flight—not

very happy with the long delay. [We

automation in customer service?

just the one customer— because they

took the opportunity] to help pass the

A: We’ve adopted the idea that, when

knew that everyone had that three-hour

time with a few jokes and they loved

you ask questions, usually the answer

delay. The customer was really happy.

that! Customers really enjoy having that

can be found through self-service plat-

She even tweeted about it and it had a

sort of interaction with JetBlue. For us,

forms, via our website or our app. It’s

lot of engagement from her followers.

it’s also a lot more effective than just

easy for customers to find answers to

saying ‘we apologize for the inconve-

common questions, but we make sure


we’re available for the seldom-asked

It really illustrates how we work as a team. We’re all in this together.

Customers First | 15

Center for excellence

Using data to gain a 360-degree customer view From airline bookings, to hotel check-

lationship-management (CRM) system

out, to the various customer service

or loyalty database. However, to paint

interactions that take place along the

a full picture of the customer, the CRM

way, few industries have as many

approach needs to be augmented with

customer touch points — and expan-

the collection and analysis of informa-

sive customer data — as the travel and

tion from secondary touch points such

hospitality business.

as online bookings, customer service

Prior to the big data era, the travel industry relied on loyalty programs

calls and social media activity. Shashank Nigam, author of ‘Soar:

for insight into customers’ historical

How the World’s Best Airline Brands

behaviors, patterns, purchases and

Delight Customers,’ believes that many

preferences. However, only 40–55 per-

hospitality brands are only scratching

cent of travelers are in an airline’s loyalty

the surface in terms of utilizing custom-

database. “The travel industry has so

er information. “Airlines particularly are

much information about customers,

in their infancy in terms of big data,” ex-

yet they’re probably the biggest data

plains Nigam. “However, collecting data

under-utilizer,” observes Shep Hyken,

is just the first step. They need to drive

author and customer service consultant

actionable insights from that data, and

for brands like Marriott and American

create a competitive [customer service]


advantage.” As a direct result, hospi-

Companies are now in an arms

flight.” By only loading food products that

tality brands are now deploying data

are likely to be consumed, the airline

race to capture and capitalize on data

collected from all manner of sources for

has lowered food-waste and fuel-burn

gleaned from consumer trends. That’s

more customized service interactions.

costs. Hotels facing similar challenges

For example, Hong Kong flag airline

in terms of food and beverage opera-

why airlines and hotels are going to great lengths to collect and analyze

carrier, Cathay Pacific, uses data to

tions could use the same strategy to

data in an effort to better understand

provide first-class customers a more

improve their procurement and invento-

their customers and offer highly person-

personalized experience, while also

ry efficiency.

alized customer service. Here’s a look

managing its bottom line. “Cathay Pa-

What’s important for airlines and

at what the travel industry is doing to-

cific actually collects data on first-class

hotels to remember is that an intense

day to attain and utilize a true 360-de-

alcohol consumption,” explains Mark

focus on improving customer service

gree customer view.

Ross-Smith, a big-data specialist and

often leads to benefits in other (some-

the founder of travel-news site Travel

times unexpected) areas.

Painting a picture of each customer

Data Daily. “This information, combined

with big data

with historical flight data, provides some

Moving loyalty programs beyond

Most hotels and airlines try their best

ability to predict what alcohol a custom-


to employ data sitting in a customer re-

er is most likely to drink on a specific

Most consumers now view loyalty pro-

16 | Customers First

TELUS International tracting insights from loyalty members’

is not based purely on frequent-flyer

historical data,” says Ross-Smith. “The

status. Therefore, it’s possible for some-

result is many [up-sell and] cross-sell

one who has never flown in their life to

opportunities. A member’s propensity

be prioritized over a passenger with

score [a method of calculating likelihood

top-level status.” The result is that Qa-

of purchasing] can be calculated to

ntas is able to identify and provide top-

predict how likely they are to take up

notch service to customers that have

specific new products or services at a

the potential to be of very high-value in

given time. When a loyalty member’s

the future.

propensity score is high, it

Moving forward, Hyken

provides scope for highly targeted and personalized offers.” Personnel at every customer touch point, including the call center, can then be alerted if a customer they’re engaging with has a high propensity score for purchasing products or

recommends that travel What’s important for airlines and hotels to remember is that an intense focus on improving customer service often leads to benefits in other (sometimes unexpected) areas.

services associated with

brands no longer compare themselves to industry peers, but to any other brands that provide outstanding customer service to the same demographic. “Airlines are now being compared with most any other business that provides great service,”

that specific interaction. Smart brands

explains Hyken. “[Customers] no longer

are moving in this direction, realizing

compare service they received from

grams more as “commoditized” market-

that loyalty programs are a way to build

one airline to another. They’re thinking

ing programs; they’re enrolled to amass

a complete view of each traveler.

in terms of the department store they

enough miles or points to receive a

visited that afternoon, or the hotel they

reward, without building true brand loy-

Driving service innovation with data

alty in the process. Leveraging data for

Ross-Smith predicts that brands will

enhanced experience and service will

continue to consolidate customer data,

seamless and personalized treatment

be one of the major ways travel brands

moving towards what he calls “a single

than ever before. The travel and hos-

differentiate their loyalty programs in the

customer-profile platform model.” Data

pitality industry is receiving fewer free


from internal and external sources will

passes from customers for flight delays,

feed into an engine, which will update

unpleasant rooms and overall poor ser-

programs to collect customer data

propensity scores in real time and feed

vice. But by enhancing data collection,

than airlines, mainly because airlines

into the customer profile for a call cen-

and using existing loyalty data more

have access to more information about

ter agent, front desk concierge or flight

efficiently, travel brands can leverage

travelers for security purposes. There-


this 360-degree view to increase — and

Hotels tend to rely more on loyalty

fore, hotels need to put that much more

“Qantas, for example, has a list of

focus into driving loyalty engagement.

the most important customers flying on

“Brands can create a full 360-degree

any given day,” Ross-Smith explains.

view of a customer’s lifestyle by ex-

“The list [weighs] multiple factors, and

stayed in the night before.” Customers today expect more

deliver on — their customer service promise.

Customers First | 17

Demographic data

Why tailoring to each demographic is key for great customer service Personalization is no longer a gentle

to differentiate

undercurrent for businesses looking to

themselves from

compete in today’s fast-paced market-

rival brands.

place; it’s more like a rip tide threaten-

It’s helpful for

ing to pull those who are too slow to

hospitality compa-

adapt into an undertow.

nies to know, for

The good news is that most compa-

example, that 44

nies already have everything they need

percent of Millen-

to come ashore: customer insight in the

nials favor book-

form of demographic data.

ing hotel services

Creating a better experience

from a mobile phone, as reported by

of their target customer is to leverage

The New York Times last year.

Facebook’s Audience Insights. Aside

In a crowded travel market, companies

However, demographics alone

from basic demographic information,

that can personalize customer interac-

don’t always paint the whole picture.

the tool allows companies to pull data

tions stand to gain more business and

According to Carrie Russell, the Van-

related to specific interests and habits

enhanced customer loyalty. The issue

couver-based managing director of

(i.e. yoga, coffee houses, shopping for

to note, however, is that the definition

Consulting & Valuation at HVS, “It’s not

beauty products and so on) from their

of “a better experience” is bound to

necessarily the age of the customer

target audience’s Facebook profile pag-

vary from one customer segment to the

but their mindset, since you can get

es. The information gleaned from this


a 50-year-old adventurous traveler

tool can be used to determine which

who might seek out similar things to a

services and local attractions booking

25-year-old traveler.”

agents choose to emphasize when they

For Baby Boomers, genealogical tourism — in which customers plan their travels around locations that have

Demographic information is a terrific

speak with customers.

ancestral meaning — is currently a

starting point, but as Russell adds,

hot trend. Meanwhile, Millennials are

“It’s also about the personality of that

needs of each demographic is a key at-

seeking adventures that diverge from

person” — making guest surveys and

tribute of success. As Forrester noted in

the typical tourist attractions, instead

other means of collecting information

its 2017 predictions report, consumers

choosing to immerse themselves in the

on past experiences and desired future

“will reward companies that can antic-

local culture.

services a continued benefit to brands.

ipate their personal needs and wants.”

Tailoring services to the differing

The better travel-industry companies The importance of data

Social data for customization

become at linking demographics to

When hotels use demographic data to

Another way for hospitality brands to

customer communication, the happier

adjust their service strategy, they’re able

gain a deeper insight into the makeup

their guests will be.

18 | Customers First

TELUS International

The big picture This image of San Ignacio, Chalatenango in El Salvador was taken by a TELUS International team member while visiting the Entre Pinos Mountain Resort. San Ignacio is one of the most important points of attraction in El Salvador, thanks to its pleasant climate and stunning landscapes.

Photo: Alejandro Fuentes

Customers First | 19

From multichannel to omnichannel customer service Despite many years of effort, it’s still a challenge for most organizations to achieve a true omnichannel customer experience (CX). Everest Group, in partnership with TELUS International, has created a checklist to help your organization assess its readiness to make the jump from multichannel to omnichannel CX. Click here to download the ‘From multichannel to omnichannel customer service’ assessment tool and take the first step to building an effective omnichannel program.

TI Customers First magazine - Issue 03