Customers Left In Limbo When Booking Holidays On the Web

Travel companies are jeopardising the success of online bookings by failing to provide adequate customer service to those using the web to make travel and holiday bookings, according to an industry report released by Talisma today.ÊThe study specifically found:

* 44% of travel companies ignore email enquiries

*ÊOnly 45% of email responses actually answers the customers request

*Ê94% of customer service representatives were unable to access emails sent by consumers, when contacted by customers via a help line

*Ê65% of companies did not answer incoming phone calls from customer using customer service numbers published on online booking web sites within 30 seconds and 14% did not answer the telephone at allÊ
An independent audit of 110 travel and leisure companies conducted by CRM solution provider Talisma in June 2004 found that companies were failing to meet basic service levels when responding to customer email and telephone enquiries generated via their web sites.

The audit focused on travel and leisure companies offering online booking facilities.Ê It found that, even though these companies published an email address for customer enquiries on their web sites, a staggering 44% of travel companies ignored email enquiries completely.ÊÊ

Of the remaining 66% that did respond to email enquiries only 40% got back to customers within 24 hours or less.Ê Perhaps even more worryingly, only 45% of those companies who replied to emails actually provided the information the customer had requested.Ê

Consumers making further enquiries by telephone did not fare any better.ÊÊ The overwhelming majority of companies audited did not answer the phone within 30 seconds, with 14% not answering the phone at all.ÊÊ When customers do get through to a customer service representative, the majority are treated like strangers; only 6% of companies could access emails sent by customers while dealing with a telephone request.

The Talisma audit also revealed that the travel industry is failing to take even basic measures to reduce customer telephone queues and email enquiries; only 30% of companies provided users with any kind of self-help information such as Frequently Asked questions or technical advice on how to use the site.

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“This audit reveals an alarming level of complacency in the travel and leisure industry.Ê Travel companies are making significant investments in state-of-the-art e-commerce applications in a bid to increase online bookings, but are failing to integrate their web site with the rest of their customer service operation, so that customers all too often end up in limbo,” said Craig Gordon, MD EMEA of Talisma.
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