The global Aviation industry was one of the most impacted industries this year and is expected to see a net loss of $118.5 billion in 2020. The industry is likely to experience a net loss of $38.7 billion next year. Credit rating agency ICRA Limited said Indian airlines will post net losses of about Rs 21,000 crore during the fiscal year (FY) 2021. In turbulent times like these, it is important for airlines and associated subsidiaries like freight, logistics and airports, to have a 360-degree view of customers – and ensure superlative customer experiences. India’s largest cargo airline and leading budget carrier SpiceJet, is no stranger to thriving in the face of adversity. In fact, even before the pandemic, SpiceJet was looking for a partner to help achieve its goal of being available to the customer at all times, on multiple channels.
Customer experience is very critical for us in the hospitality space. ‘We care’ is our overall value statement and we endeavour to show our customers we care at every touchpoint,” says Ashish Vikram, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at SpiceJet Limited. “For that, our customer experience agents and airport staff need a 360-degree view of the customer across channels.
Problem definition: siloed data
This goal of customer 360 was initially hindered by siloed customer data that sat on multiple systems that were not integrated. SpiceJet sought a single platform that would unify these data sources.
Not surprisingly, the airline, which was in the midst of a technology transformation when the pandemic hit, saw it as an opportunity to intensify its innovation efforts.
From delivering in-flight entertainment on personal devices to bringing contactless procedures to airports, SpiceJet has skillfully leveraged its technology relationships to serve its customers and the country during the pandemic. Salesforce is one such relationship.
“We looked at a few solutions to evaluate who would be able to provide us with the right kind of support and flexibility. As a company that continually innovates, we also looked for someone who could work on innovation alongside us,” explains Vikram on how SpiceJet decided on Salesforce.
Omnichannel customer experience off to a flying start
SpiceJet customers interact with the company across multiple touchpoints. They call in to make reservations or raise queries and complaints. They also use email and social media for queries and to ask for refunds. Also, SpiceJet and third-party staff use an airport app to raise cases on the spot at the airport.
Tickets from all these touchpoints are integrated into Service Cloud. The reservation and customer experience teams use this unified view of customer interactions to serve customers better. Since deploying Service Cloud, first call resolution has seen a significant increase from 18% to 31%.
When the COVID-19 lockdown happened, customer call volumes at SpiceJet doubled as people called in about cancellations and refunds. In addition to helping the reservations and contact centre teams transition smoothly to work-from-home, Vikram also had to ensure that customers did not experience a drop in service levels. “We had to quickly come up with solutions,” says Vikram.
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How Salesforce Digital Engagement helped
With cloud-based Salesforce, agents continued to have seamless access to tickets, requests and customer data, making the transition to work-from-home very easy. And SpiceJet customers hardly felt any disruption.
To efficiently manage the increasing call volume, Vikram implemented Service Cloud Digital Engagement, which went live within days.
With Digital Engagement, SpiceJet has deployed Live Agent chat and a chatbot integrated with web and mobile sites, and WhatsApp. The chatbot now automates and handles 65% of customer queries across all channels. And as a result, customer cases generated via email have reduced by 61%.
With non-voice support through Live Agent, the average employee response time over chat has reduced from 37.2 seconds to 25.5 seconds.
“We have been able to handle double the case volumes with the same number of agents,” notes Vikram. “And NPS during COVID times has been maintained at a high 7.5.”
To provide COVID-safe contactless experiences, SpiceJet has also enabled the chatbot to check-in customers over WhatsApp for their flights. So, customers can now check-in and receive their e-boarding pass on their mobiles. This is a national first, and with 99% of passengers web checking in over multiple channels, SpiceJet has seen a drastic drop in passenger waiting times at the airport.
Taking no-touch models a step further, the company has also introduced apps for baggage management. SpiceJet and airport staff use the mishandled baggage app and the lost-and-found app built on Experience Cloud to lodge baggage-related complaints.
Exploring new horizons for B2B customer relationships
Sales Cloud is also used to efficiently manage B2B relationships such as SpiceJet chartered flights, and subsidiaries SpiceJet Technic for ventilator sales and SpiceXpress for cargo. Sales teams use the Salesforce mobile app to access booking data in real-time and actively manage travel agency and aggregator site relationships. Further, automated processes and digital approvals have led to new travel agents being onboarded within eight hours, compared to eight days earlier. So, agents can start making bookings and seeing revenue in-flows in a day.
The SpiceJet team is now working on making greater use of Sales Cloud capabilities. Soon, salespeople will have the right metrics and powerful reports to track and close sales without losing opportunities. “We want to help our salespeople have better sales interactions and make more conversions,” says Vikram.
SpiceJet flies into the future
The smart use of technology has brought clear benefits to the company. Rich reports help the management team to monitor case closure times, call resolution, and the nature of complaints, helping the company to address customer needs promptly.
“Salesforce gives us good visibility into what the customer is feeling. Our customer satisfaction has improved significantly. Even during Covid times, customer satisfaction levels have remained high despite the constraints we operated within,” says Vikram.
The aviation leader plans to increase its global market share for passenger and cargo flights. Salesforce will continue to be a part of this journey as Vikram and his team continually fine-tune apps and streamline processes to improve customer experience.
The decade-and-half old company came back from the brink of collapse in 2014 to chart one of the country’s most successful aviation stories. Chairman and managing director Ajay Singh who led this turnaround is known to look for opportunity in adversity, and this is now part of the company’s DNA.