The ongoing inability of air travel providers to manage spikes in demand scuttled recent plans to enjoy Canada Day or Independence Day for many in North America.  The reality is that pointing fingers at airlines, airport administrators and governments for failing to properly manage a long-anticipated event achieves little.  Rather, finding practical solutions that can help travelers avoid at least some of these issues through the rest of 2022’s summer months should be top of mind.

This is where the outsourcing community needs to step up and quickly help beleaguered air carriers with customer demands.  The fact is, no matter if it is airport CX operations, airline contact centers, or passport/visa processing offices, those running 100% in-house are facing considerable pressure from customers.   Frankly, this situation is only going to get worse before it gets better.  Failure to manage expectations from travel-hungry citizens will only lead to slow-burning dissatisfaction.

This is no pipe dream.  Take passport processing. In recent weeks, furious citizens have been forced to camp outside the passport office in the Canadian city of Laval just to retrieve their travel documents or even obtain basic information. In some instances, frustration with the inability of the government to address the issue has boiled over into violence that has required police assistance.

Air travel is no better.  In the US, over the July 4th weekend, the regular festivities of picnics, golf outings, and parades took place amid spikes in canceled flights. This meant significant headaches and uncertainty for those eager to visit loved ones.  And, while consumers are generally understanding, patience runs thin when they cannot access an airline representative for hours on end to get information on flight itineraries.

The same applies to lost luggage, which has become a saga for many weary road warriors.  Being able to find out where bags actually are, and when they will arrive at the right destination, has been a headache for airline call centers. Many simply cannot keep up with interaction volumes (thanks in part to archaic self-service platforms).

To be clear, the July holiday long weekend in North America is only one part of this global puzzle. This is a worldwide problem that will likely linger for some time.  Failure to meet service standards will erode consumer loyalty, and in Canada is even being blamed for undermining national unity by a well-respected former senator.  It is also an area where the outsourced CX community can make a positive difference.

The key is for relevant BPOs to position themselves as logical contenders for travel-related engagements.  Understandably, those providers with experience working supporting airlines are certain to be the first to reap deals with transporters that are desperate to offload at least some of their customer interactions.  However, no one should underestimate those outsourcers that also can provide subject-matter expertise working with the public sector.  For example, any outsourcing operator that can help airport authorities support digital and voice-based inquiries during peak travel times will equally be competitively positioned.  From a value-add perspective, any BPO that offers visa processing services(a great example being TLScontact, owned by Teleperformance) is certain to be well-received by overloaded public sector agencies that cannot keep up with demand.

Most importantly, the outsourcing community must be proactive in its approach to helping air carriers and travel-related entities manage surges in interactions.  With the best will in the world, these types of engagements are not going to fall into their hands; BPOs need to be aggressive in soliciting such deals.  Leveraging contacts across the air travel sector needs to start now based around a concise value proposition focused on helping carriers, airports, and public sector agencies through these tough times.  Only proactive players that are prepared and organized can turn short-term crisis management into long-term relationships.

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