HolidayExtras.com was recently named Best Company for Customer Service and Commitment at the Kent Excellence in Business Awards 2010. The ceremony saw the cream of Kent business recognised for their dedication to offering the best in products and services, with leading figures from across the county walking away with the prestigious awards and accolades.
In being named the Best Company for Customer Service and Commitment, HolidayExtras.com received acknowledgement for its commitment to offering the best service to its customers over the preceding 12 months. During this period, the company has experienced a variety of challenging situations, with the impact of the Icelandic volcanic eruption proving particularly demanding.
View a gallery of images from this year's Kent Excellence in Business Awards.
Exceptional call volumes
Friday, April 16 saw call volumes peak at 8,743 - up 360% on regular levels and exceeding the predicted 2,419 calls. The following day also saw a monumental effort from the contact centre, with 7,928 calls representing a 478% increase in volume. In order to support the contact centre, staff from across the business - including the CEO and board members - logged on to the phones to help handle the unprecedented call levels from concerned customers wanting to cancel and those with queries.
Increase in email contacts
In addition to exceptional call volumes, the level of email contacts rose ten-fold, with 3,000 emails coming in during this period. Additional email accounts, managed by different areas of the business, were set up to help respond to the hike in email queries received. Most were handled within 24-36 hours at its peak.
Exploring alternative communication channels
In another move to support the contact centre, HolidayExtras.com was able to extend use of a new contact method for customers: live chat/instant messenging. An additional team of 15 people were trained within an hour to help respond to customers' queries and booking/cancellation requests. Live chat was also, of course, accessible by people working from home - ideal if the additional resource could not make it back into the office out of normal hours.
Heightened contact with suppliers
By Monday April 19, it was evident that there was no sign of the situation easing. As such, a mission to contact suppliers to seek their support for providing customers with a full refund in the event of cancellation was effected. By noon of that day, some 80% of all suppliers had agreed to waive cancellation charges. As the week unfolded, suppliers moved to a position of giving credit notes for future re-bookings. Over the course of this period, HolidayExtras.com was the first to state that it would provide customers with refunds and the first to confirm that credit for a cancelled booking could be transferred to a new booking made in the future.
Keeping customers up-to-date online
HolidayExtras.com CEO, Matthew Pack, kept customers abreast of the latest situation and how the company were helping customers during the week by posting a daily video diary. At least one video per day was released to the site, while content was updated as events unfolded. Travel expert Simon Calder even offered advice for travellers stranded abroad and unable to make their way home.
For most customers, HolidayExtras.com was able to cancel and refund their booking or alternatively offer them a credit note for their next booking. The hard work seemed to pay dividends, with exceptional feedback from customers expressing their thanks and gratitude.