Our ethos at Trailfinders is to deliver a superior, personalised and bespoke customer service. Today, customers want to communicate with us using a range of tools whether that’s via the phone, face-to-face, using social media or on a video call. We want to make communications and doing business with us easier, more enjoyable for the customer and easier for our travel consultants.

We constantly work with our communications solution provider and systems integrator, Britannic Technologies to evolve our digital transformation strategy. Together we look at ways to innovate and use technology as a differentiator to deliver a more personalised and user-friendly service.

Voice is still king

Trailfinders currently has 32 travel centres in the UK and Ireland with 800 consultants who are experts in tailor-making holidays around the world.

Voice is still very much king with Trailfinders and our consultants deal with over five million calls a year. We depend upon the phone system as it accounts for approximately 90% of our group’s revenue. Previously we had different telephone systems in the travel centres and it was becoming costly and difficult to manage. It was also problematic to set up new systems for new locations as the business grew. Our objective was to centralise our business communications into one efficient and cost-effective system and contact centre.

Communications made easy

Britannic Technologies advised us to host our telephony infrastructure in a private cloud because it provides more flexibility in terms of managing the solution, adding on users, setting up new locations and applications and technology when required.

The communications solution includes Mitel IP telephony and multi-media contact centre which is hosted in three of Britannic’s data centres around the UK.

It has amalgamated all locations providing centralised management and control, whilst removing hardware and simplifying the technology used in travel centres. This has improved call routing and call distribution, so all the calls come into one system and are routed to the relevant groups. As a business, we are now more nimble and the call volumes are distributed more evenly over resources.

It is not just the distribution of calls that is critical but the actual call handling to ensure that our agents are performing to the highest standard possible and delivering the level of service that we expect. We constantly evaluate and analyse the real-time and historic reports that the contact centre produces to identify training requirements. We have gone from 15% of lost calls in the past to 1%, that’s an improvement to be proud of.

Secure in a private cloud

With the solution hosted in our private cloud we now have a robust and reliable voice infrastructure. Britannic’s netX session initiation protocol (SIP) augments our business continuity, supporting resilient call routing via data circuits with automatic failover routes. If a travel centre goes down then all the calls from the affected local numbers will continue to flow in and are evenly distributed throughout the other branches. We have never had this kind of resilience before.

Going local

As a business, we value delivering a local service. Therefore it was important for us to retain the geographical numbers of the travel centres. Britannic’s netX enabled us to maintain those numbers. The calls still come into the local centres but they are re-routed to the next available agent if an agent at the local centre isn’t available.

The personal touch

Our focus is firmly on the customer, so delivering superior customer service is key. By going a step further and personalising our service we can augment the customer experience.

The Britannic netCONNECT computer telephony integration (CTI) middleware acts as the glue between our business communications platform and our customer relationship management (CRM) systems. It enables the consultants taking the call to instantly see who they are speaking to, as a screen with the customer’s personal details and history pops up. This allows the consultant to focus on the conversation and assist the customer rather than searching for their details on the database.

We are currently in the process of incorporating Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) into our digital transformation strategy, which will further improve our personalised customer service and make interactions between consultants and customers even easier and more engaging. It puts people in the experience and facilitates communications by making it feel more natural, and reduces any frustrations that may occur when not being able to find information or access it readily. In the future, customers will be able to call a consultant and then share a screen on their desktop or mobile device to see additional information on a holiday, co-browse a document and maybe a video of the resort, or have a video call with the consultant through our website.

WebRTC also provides the ability for consultants to upsell and cross-sell as they can show pictures and tag on other services that customers may be interested in, as they are in the moment.

It’s about joining up technology and automatically sharing customer insight in the contact centre to improve agent intelligence. Based on knowledge, our consultants can personalise their approach. This is what, as a business, allows us to really connect with people and deliver a positive and seamless customer experience. If you don’t meet your customers’ ever-growing expectations and they have a bad experience, they will tell the world on social media and your brand reputation takes a hard knock. If you get it right, your customers will become your best brand advocates and will tell the world your story.