Virgin Atlantic logo
Client

Virgin Atlantic

Business type

Travel & Hospitality

Business area

Airline, Holidays

“I wholeheartedly recommend Contact Centre Panel to anyone seeking top-tier support and guidance for their contact centre and customer service requirements.”

Louise Phillips, Vice President Customer Centres

Virgin Atlantic first took to the skies in 1984 to shake things up, bringing a sparkle of red, a touch of wit and a passion for flying to the grey world of airlines.

Since then Virgin Atlantic have become Britain’s second largest carrier, with non-stop transatlantic routes including New York, Orlando, the Caribbean, Delhi and Johannesburg. And thanks to their hugely successful joint venture with Delta, Air France and KLM, Virgin Atlantic can seamlessly connect their customers to over 350 cities across North America, Europe and the UK.

Client challenge and requirements

The impact of COVID-19 on the Aviation sector was profound. The pandemic led to a sharp decline in air travel demand due to widespread flight cancellations and reduced flight schedules. This meant that Virgin Atlantic faced unprecedented challenges, due to having to ground the majority of their aircraft.

Throughout 2021, the Virgin Atlantic Customer Centre in Swansea faced an overwhelming surge in customer demand, receiving over five times the usual call volume despite a 77% reduction in passengers travelling. They were only managing to answer ~35% of calls, as average handling time doubled due to multiple disruptions to travel plans and refund requests. The aftermath of numerous flight cancellations left over 70,000 tickets requiring rebooking, further straining operations.

By the close of 2021, the operational performance of the Customer Centre had deteriorated significantly, and it was critical to recover the operation to retain customer loyalty in a rapidly changing world.

Primary objectives

Louise turned to Contact Centre Panel to assist the Virgin Atlantic Customer Centre in tackling this challenge, this included:

  • Identify a top tier outsourcing partner capable of not only alleviating the strain on the in-house team but also maintaining the exceptional service quality synonymous with Virgin Atlantic’s brand.
  • The outsourcing partner was to oversee the re-booking process of the 70,000 tickets, thereby freeing up the Virgin Atlantic in-house team to focus on new travel bookings and handling other incoming enquiries.
  • Ensure that the re-booking of the 70,000 tickets would be executed with utmost accuracy and efficiency, particularly in light of the reassurance that customers required as a result of previous flight cancellations.

Whilst a challenging ask in the climate of COVID19, at CCP we were confident of finding the best fit solution for Virgin Atlantic due to the quality of our contact centre network, and being able to call upon experts in the airline industry to support with the ask.

Solution

Using our tried and tested approach, Contact Centre Panel were able to quickly document Virgin Atlantic’s requirements, identifying a selection of best-fit offshore outsource partners who had experience in the travel and aviation sector. We were able to guide Virgin Atlantic through the briefing process, which included setting up and hosting partner introduction sessions, creating tools and matrices to help them score the proposals, providing support and thoughts around the commercial models and help to facilitate the contract review and initial project kick-off with the partner of choice.

In addition, CCP provided Virgin Atlantic access to two industry experts, who had worked in the airline customer service space for a combined total of 50 years. Our experts were able to support the implementation process, providing their invaluable guidance on this such a recruitment, training and operational best practices.

All the way through the above stages CCP ensured it remained agile enough to react to any requests/issues, whilst at the same time providing a solid structure to guide Virgin Atlantic to the end of the process within an agreed timeframe.

Client outcome

Since signing the contract with the chosen outsource partner, three cohorts of advisors have been successfully trained through Virgin Atlantic’s rigorous training program. The calibre of the advisors has been excellent, with the majority having prior experience in utilising airline-specific systems and software.

The implementation of the selected partner has been so successful in supporting the increase in customer demand that the recovery of the operation promptly made significant progress. Call Answer Rate increased 46 percentage points to 81% – the highest CAR for 18 months – further increasing to the pre-Covid SLA of 95%. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) improved by 29 points YoY.

The partnership between Virgin Atlantic and their chosen partner continues to go from strength to strength, with Louise and the UK team regularly visiting their partner, marking milestones such as the graduation of the newest cohort from the training program.

We look forward to seeing how this partnership develops over the coming years.

Client comment

“ Our collaboration with CCP over the past three years has been integral in shaping Virgin Atlantic’s customer service recovery following the pandemic. CCP swiftly grasped our needs, orchestrating a dynamic process that facilitated our selection of a new outsourced contact centre partner. Their highly experienced team not only demonstrated profound expertise but also tapped into aviation industry specialists to ensure a seamless transition and implementation with our chosen partner.

Post-transition, CCP has continued to provide exceptional support, ensuring a successful relationship with our selected outsource partner.

Furthermore, their regular updates on industry trends and participation in insightful roundtable discussions have been invaluable. I wholeheartedly recommend Contact Centre Panel to anyone seeking top-tier support and guidance for their contact centre and customer service requirements.

Louise Phillips, Vice President Customer Centres