Managing a high-growth business always comes with its own set of challenges. For Alternative Airlines – the UK-based travel site, founded in 2006 and now ticketing from over 600 airlines worldwide – this has certainly been the case, as a global pandemic threatened their entire industry as we know it.
While high-profile competitors have found themselves struggling, Shelley Tasker, the company’s Operations Manager, feels confident in the company’s business model. Alternative Airlines was able to act fast to limit damages and keep on a solid footing, ready to resume its growth trajectory as soon as some semblance of normality returns to air travel.
The key to this, Tasker believes, was that the company was already in a good position to deal with such a shock. As sales ground to a halt, it began to focus on growing its partnership network – as well as manouevering to deal with an unprecedented amount of customer service and assistance.
While they previously utilised WhatsApp and Live Chat functionality as well, when COVID-19 hit the business streamlined its response channels to just telephone and email. By this point, voice was the preferred method of communication for customers all over the world and, having moved to a softphone, the team were able to run their operations without any interruptions.
With everyone immediately switching to remote working, this lack of disruption was pivotal in their ability to respond to customers efficiently and effectively. Having adopted Aircall a few months earlier, her and the team were able to utilise it to consolidate their successes.
“We started using Aircall in January 2020, just a couple of months before the pandemic hit. It was perfect timing – I don’t know how we would have effectively serviced our customers otherwise. Aircall expertly saved us”.
Prioritising flexibility and visibility
Before the company started using a VoIP solution, the team were using physical phones in their offices. For managers, this rigid system meant limited visibility on call stats – meaning analysis was near on impossible, with no valuable information readily available.
While they could still answer calls, team leaders were lacking the autonomy needed to drive efficiencies, and were wasting valuable time on avoidable admin as a result. Now, Alternative Airlines are able to adjust services to customer needs. From adjusting opening hours to setting welcome messages, Aircall has enabled the business to refine its response strategy and deliver a better service as a result.
“It was clear we needed to be able to manage our phone lines ourselves, but back then, we just couldn’t do it. Everything was laboured. We had to email the company, log an issue, then wait for it to be resolved. As a business that makes decisions fast, this model quickly proved it wasn’t a sustainable one”.
Making life easier
As the pandemic caused businesses without the right digital support in place to panic, Alternative Airlines were able to transition smoothly – making life easier for the team on the frontline of the service desk, as well as the supervisors managing individual teams.
“Our booking agents now only need their headphones to do their job. Their address book is saved in Aircall; they always know who’s calling, and who to call back”.
It’s not just about efficiency, either. Customer satisfaction, Tasker believes, is about empathy, too – particularly during testing times. Issues can be resolved in a manner that leaves customers feeling appreciated, rather than isolated, and this level of communication has been key to Alternative Airlines’ successes throughout this period.
“Issue resolution is much more effective by phone than by email. It really allows us to explain the situation, and for the customer, hearing a voice just feels more genuine. Not only is resolution time 50% shorter over the phone, it’s also more likely to deliver a positive outcome for both parties.”
Next up? A purpose-built API
When expansion is in your DNA, you’re always looking for new solutions to help you level up. For Alternative Airlines, this means leveraging Aircall’s Open API and the tools readily available to developers to build a custom integration for their own booking system.
For a business that lists operational excellence as a key priority, it presents another opportunity to generate efficiencies – and to keep providing the memorable customer experiences that ultimately power their growth.
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