How to Improve Efficiency Whilst Elevating High-Class CX
There’s a reason why Finnair has been ranked as Northern Europe’s top airline for nine consecutive years. The airline is well known for their stellar customer service -- and this is what we are going to look at more closely in this article.
Yes, its business class has won numerous awards, as have its intercontinental meals and wines. But it’s more than that.
Finnair is also among the world’s safest airlines, having been ranked the 6th safest airline on Earth in 2018. The airline is also well known for their stellar customer service -- and this is what we are going to look at more closely in this article. Finnair has taken impressive steps to improve its efficiency, while concurrently elevating the high-class experience for its customers. That isn’t something that’s easily achieved.
Here’s how they did it.
Finnair takes excellent care of its employees. That’s why 81 percent of their current and past employees would recommend working with the company to a friend. Finnair believes in participatory leadership, and provides its leaders with opportunities to grow. According to the careers section of their website, Finnair links performance and competences in its personal development discussions, encourages people to give and receive feedback and brings competence development as a key part of leadership competencies. This is important. Ensuring employees can sharpen their skills and grow in their role is one of the best ways to keep a team motivated. The airline also creates a fun, friendly working environment, according to reviews by its employees.
“Finnair had a great working culture. This was reflected in the way staff interacted with each other, encouraging creativity in all areas of the company. I was fortunate to work with a fun, creative and hard-working communications team which created great work.”
Encouraging creativity and a positive attitude in your employees will lead to your employees coming to you with out-of-the-box ideas, and communicating with one another in an effective, friendly manner. Plus, if the working environment inspires laughter and fun while still maintaining professionalism, employees will feel less stressed and thus be more likely to go above and beyond for your customers.
The Finnish airline places a huge focus on customer loyalty. Its Net Promoter Score, which measures customer experience and predicts growth, was at an all-time high in the second quarter of 2018 (though it declined slightly in 2019). Many companies place high importance on customer acquisition. Monitoring your company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), sharing it with your company, and holding your employees accountable for it will place more focus on your customer happiness, which will increase not only employee efficiency but also the total customer experience.
As the world goes fill kilter into the depths of the automation age, Finnair isn’t one to get left behind. Indeed, the company recently introduced an AI tool that boosts customer service quality and scale by providing suggested answers for agents in real-time. The AI-powered suggestion tool, invisible to customers, allows the company’s human agents to speed up their response time by enabling them to simply choose the optimal AI-selected response, rather than typing out their responses each time. In doing so, the Nordic airline improved its agent first response time by 46 percent, improved its total average response time by 31 percent, and was able to handle 25 percent more cases per hour than before it implemented the new technology.
Satu Karaksela of Finnair’s Digital Customer Services called the new automation tool
“an eye-opening experience on what's possible with AI.” She went on to say, “We now give +30% faster responses across all cases, with increased per agent output and job satisfaction.”
The fact is, 80% of customer service agents’ time is taken up by tedious, repetitive tasks that can be automated. Automating these tasks will free up your human agents to handle the more complex cases that require and deserve a personal touch. But it’s important to understand that It’s not as much about automation as it is about augmentation -- because automation doesn’t work on its own. Instead, if automation (like chatbots) works hand in hand with your customer service agents so that human agents can step in where appropriate, and of course keep an eye on the AI to ensure it’s doing its job correctly, you’ll see a huge improvement in your customer service efficiency and the quality of the service that you are offering.
Finally and critically, Finnair carefully studies its customer and flight data. With Data Strategist Minna Karha at the helm, the company has embarked on an aggressive data strategy that takes them through to 2025 and beyond. What’s involved? The airline is using machine-based learning to predict flight delays, for one. But that’s not all. Increased personalisation in customer experience is also a big focus. The company has also built a centralised data platform that enables scalable and secure use of data for analysis -- creating a single collaborative place for the entire Finnair family to work together.
Says Karha of Finnair’s developing data strategy:
“A third use case focuses on revenue management and pricing - a huge concern for all airlines, in the face of intense competition between them and relentless downward pressure on price. Here, better analysis will enable Finnair to price flights - and individual seats on those flights - in a way that keeps fares competitive, while maximising profitability.”
If nothing else, take a leaf out of Finnair’s book on this one: if your company has a large number of customers, then your interactions with these customers -- as well as their engagement with your company -- produces mountains of data. If mined and analysed correctly, these mountains of data can provide you with invaluable insights that you can use to improve your company’s efficiency and the customer experience in big ways. Understanding your customers’ pain points, as well as your most common customer service cases, will tell you where you need to focus your time, energy, and money, for improvements.
Finnair provides a shining example of how it’s possible to improve efficiency within your customer service team through caring for your employees, measuring customer loyalty, automating and augmenting, and paying close attention to your data. The result of placing a high importance on these four strategies is that not only will your team work faster and more effectively, but your customers will also be treated to a higher class experience.
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