Webjet is one of the first Online Travel Agents (OTA) in the Australian market and is proud of its position as the number one OTA in Australia and New Zealand. Webjet currently takes more than 50% share of the OTA flights market, as well as more than 5% of the total domestic flights market and about 4% of the international flights market. Webjet is driven to deliver the best travel products, value, and services to its customers, and has set a precedent for developing industry leading technology and tools that provide travellers with the greatest convenience and choice. These achievements include the world’s first Travel Services Aggregation technology and an industry first domestic matrix presentation.
The government-led introduction of border closures and travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic had immediate ramifications for Webjet OTA. It necessitated a rapid business response that would temper customer anxiety and manage the unprecedented volumes of customer contact that quickly overwhelmed resources; the latter of which only became further strained due to the closures of off-shore customer contact centres. Previous processes for managing online change requests (OCRs) submitted by customers relied heavily on manual handling, to comply with rules and regulations of the 140 global airlines accessible within Webjet. This practice was unsustainable as customer demand for booking changes, cancellations and refunds caused legacy systems and workflows to collapse.
An opportunity was identified to automate the processing of eligible change requests, thereby alleviating strain on Customer Service agents, and creating an end-to-end solution for Webjet customers. The first step of this innovation was to automate the prioritisation of customer requests; allowing Customer Service agents to action urgent requests for immediate departures within the next 24 hours. The prioritisation project was further enhanced with an initiative that would allow customers to facilitate their own booking cancellations via an online form on Webjet.com.au. Another extension of the project – the process of redeeming airline credit – was added in June 2020.
The self-service functionality was proactively rolled out in B2C communications as soon as it was deployed. It was integrated into an average of 12 separate email broadcasts per week and became a critical message on central touchpoints across the Webjet.com.au site, including in Customer Support and Frequently Asked Questions content.
Webjet’s self-service automation project directly impacted the customer experience with the business. It enabled customers to circumvent hours-long wait times and helped mitigate escalation of customer frustration to regulatory bodies, which saw a spike in complaints industry wide. As a technological innovation, it allowed the business to deliver the best-possible service to its customers during a time of immense anxiety, uncertainty, and hardship.