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Drones at Heathrow – How to Minimise Chaos for Customers

In recent weeks, drones have caused significant disruption at two of the UK’s major airports, Gatwick and Heathrow, halting the airports’ operations and causing chaos for customers. Reported sightings of drones at Gatwick in the run-up to Christmas, one of the busiest times of years for airports, led to several days of disruption and left thousands of people stranded.

In high-emotion, stressful situations such as these, airports and airlines experience spikes in calls and service volumes with customers clamouring for answers about the status of flights and want the most up-to-date information on the unfolding situation.

At times like this, therefore, keeping customers informed and customer service up and running are a major priority. Fortunately, technology is becoming more and more capable of providing a viable solution during these periods.

Increasingly, contact centres are choosing to opt for self-service options, such as web and voice interaction, to provide anxious callers with access to information, status updates, and to steer priority calls quickly to the right advisor. Modern voice interaction systems have taken what used to be traditional IVR to a whole new level of sophistication. Leveraging mobile devices and visually- driven menus alongside AI- enabled bots working in harmony with human agents helps provide streamlined intelligent interaction handling that can scale easily.

Such systems handle high volume, repetitive requests from callers extremely well, making them ideal for dealing with high call volumes during crisis situations like those experienced by Gatwick and Heathrow. This technology can also provide an instant response, which is the priority in any highly emotive situation such as this and promotes a far better caller experience than waiting in a queue. And, when used in tandem with real agents, it also provides significant business benefits by enabling call centre staff to focus on high-value, priority or emergency calls.

Self-service options online can also be effective. Airports and airlines can keep customers informed automatically updating the company’s website to display answers to the most commonly asked questions at that time. These answers can then also be updated automatically as soon as new information becomes available.

More proactively still, these organisations can make use of outbound notifications. By sending a text or email they can tell customers about the latest situation and manage expectations. This will also help to reduce the volume of calls going into the contact centre and reduce the level of traffic and demand being placed on the website.

And, when the pressure is on, as in this situation, the cloud offers businesses the peace of mind of knowing that all these service offerings can be kept up and running regardless of the situation. Cloud contact centres enable agents to connect to the technology platform and necessary applications from anywhere that has Internet access. Companies can, therefore, continue to service the client base, reducing the impact of what could otherwise have been a disastrous situation, resulting in dropped calls, negative customer experiences and lost revenue.

The flexible infrastructure this provides allows contact centres to rapidly ‘ramp up’ resource when they are experiencing a spike in customer communication. For instance, companies would be able to call on a pool of remote agents to quickly field calls for the duration of the spike and then scale back as soon as the situation is over. This is particularly useful when the duration of the crisis is unknown. While disruption at Gatwick lasted several days, at Heathrow it was just a matter of hours, meaning that the airport would have rapidly needed extra resource but for a short period of time.

Companies can always benefit from switching on an extended contact centre at any times of raised demand – whether that is planned or unplanned. Cloud contact centres allow them to do that while only paying for what they use when they use it. If they are launching a new gadget or game onto the market, they will need to scale, particularly if there are issues with distribution or supply. And if there is a sudden customer surge due to a product failure or a serious concern, as was the case with the drone sightings, they will need to be agile enough to deal with it quickly and efficiently. The latest cloud contact centre solutions allow them to do all of this and more.

Published in call handling contact center customer experience Customer Experience Management IVR/Self-Service omni-channel