Feedback tools give WestJet real-time customer reaction

When customer reaction to a series of its television commercials was less than uplifting, Calgary-based airline carrier WestJet recently discovered that having the ability to quickly act on real-time feedback can be most beneficial.

According to WestJet, its recently aired “Airline Syndrome” commercials weren’t resonating with its customers; WestJet quickly found out the spot was turning off a majority of its customers and quickly pulled the ads. The firm was able to do this by using customer relationship management (CRM) software from Vancouver-based Response-Tek Networks Corp.

Specifically, WestJet is using CRM tools that ResponseTek dubs Customer Experience Management (CEM) software. The product provides a real-time reporting, action management, and knowledge sharing system.

For firms like WestJet that deal directly with customers the goal is to reduce customer churn — it costs much less money to keep customers than it does to get them in the first place — and to improve customer retention.

But when it comes to customer behaviour, it is often subject to continuous change.

And when it comes to customer data, the more organizations can access and understand this information, the more they can make informed decisions and improve its customer relationships.

Previously, WestJet was using a paper-based and e-mail customer-feedback system, said Don Bell, vice-president of customer service for WestJet. “It was very hard to track and quantify the areas that [customers] were giving us feedback on,” Bell said.

“We looked for a tool that would help us more accurately track the feedback, categorize it and then deal with it — it’s one thing to get the feedback and another thing to action it.”

The tool is an ASP model so it was fairly easy to implement, which was a good thing, as the IT department could concentrate on other projects, Bell said. For example, the tool can collect data from sources such as the Internet, e-mail, wireless devices and customer kiosks.

Simply put, the software provides WestJet with a consolidated view of all incoming customer feedback, allowing the carrier to improve the efficiency in responding to customers and in identifying and tracking trends and problems.

The CEM tool provides WestJet with fast access to customer feedback. The system is very intuitive, Bell said, and improves communication between WestJet and customers by quickly providing insight into what it is doing right and what it is doing wrong.

Chris Simmons, client manager for Response-Tek, said that other verticals that would be a good fit for the CEM technology include the obvious ones, such as telecommunications and financial services, as well as travel and hospitality.

The technology is a part of the airline’s Interactive Feedback Corner, a Web-based channel for customer input that includes an online ratings and comments system.

This allows the firm to quickly gauge reactions to WestJet’s pricing strategies, Simmons said. “Internet pricing makes our product more and more a commodity,” Bell said, adding that this means that the overall customer experience is a key differentiator.

With the technology in place, WestJet has been able to complete further system enhancements, including the development of an “Ask WestJet” section of the Web site.

The section is a database of frequently asked questions culled from the CEM system, Bell said. This has reduced customer calls and also boosted the productivity of WestJet agents, he added.

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