Airlines saw an increase of 300 percent in monthly conversations around flight bookings, at a time when global passenger numbers have been trending around one-fifth of 2019 levels, according to research conducted by Verint, a customer engagement company. Airline flight volumes are down, but airline customer communication is at an all-time high due to issues of flight cancellations, refunds, and credit and voucher requests.
The research provides an inside look at the airline industry’s consumer communications challenges during a period of unprecedented disruption and the need for transformation. As the airline industry begins to rebound and rebuild, it is “landing” in a radically new world of customer engagement challenges.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel has become a more complex customer journey ‒ fraught with new questions, concerns, and high-flying anxiety levels. Meanwhile, cost-cutting measures over the past decade have left many airlines with antiquated support systems and overwhelmed contact centers ill-equipped to handle the surge.
Additionally, significant channel shift has taken place over the past two years, with consumer preference growing for use of third-party messaging services such as Apple Business Chat, Twitter, WhatsApp and more.
Verint researchers say we could see a 15x growth in customer conversations on private messaging channels when passenger numbers return to pre-pandemic levels.
“Technology will increasingly change the way we fly, and airlines must change their focus from cost containment to customer centricity,” says Evan Kirstel, a business-to-business thought leader and prominent influencer in digital transformation.
“Leaders in the industry need to commit to a wholesale shift in strategy. Innovation requires airlines to look beyond the obvious, via an in-depth and 360-degree view of customer needs. This entails first understanding customers, and then building the operations, processes, information, and tech necessary to deliver on their needs,” Kirstel continues.