Call centres get a break as Cook revamps flights site

Travel website flythomascook.com is rolling out a hosted customer self-service system to reduce the number of calls handled by contact centre staff by 30%.

Travel website flythomascook.com is rolling out a hosted customer self-service system to reduce the number of calls handled by contact centre staff by 30%.

The hosted system, from RightNow Technologies, will let holidaymakers search the flythomascook.com site using natural language queries. It is scheduled to be switched on in the first week in July.

Last summer the travel firm found that it was inundated with customers making telephone enquiries after using the website, and it had to take staff from other parts of its operations to handle the calls.

“We saw a mountain of enquiries in May and June 2005,” said flythomascook.com director Tony Milsom.

To avoid similar difficulties this year, Milsom considered three options: a chat facility on the website to allow customers to “talk” to call centre staff, software to enable call centre staff to handle more calls, and improved self-service functionality.

The RightNow system uses a self-learning database that can be configured using weightings on the keywords within a query to ensure that a customer’s enquiry produces appropriate answers.

This has enabled flythomascook.com to teach the system to recognise the difference between lost luggage and checked luggage, for example, said Milsom.

The process of “teaching” the system involved the holiday company contacting reference users, including Gloucestershire County Council, to see how to optimise keyword searches on its website.

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