Consumers Continue to be Frustrated by Poor Customer Service Across Travel Websites

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The latest eTravel Benchmark study from eDigitalResearch reveals that online travel websites are still failing to deliver adequate customer service. 43 out of the 47 websites reviewed have been affected by ‘satisfactory’, ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ customer service scores, with the airlines sector failing to answer over 51% of all email queries.

The latest eTravel Benchmark study from eDigitalResearch reveals that online travel websites are still failing to deliver adequate customer service. 43 out of the 47 websites reviewed have been affected by ‘satisfactory’, ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ customer service scores, with the airlines sector failing to answer over 51% of all email queries.

Across the benchmark measures, the initial research and flexibility of the search facility scored well across all sectors of the travel market, with people able to search with a budget, timeframe or destination in mind, as well as getting detailed information about their chosen destination, even down to a local weather forecast.

However, while it is good to deliver customer self-service, it does need to be backed up by quality customer service support, as people often have further queries or want to confirm their findings.

Lloyd Viney, associate director of eDigitalResearch comments: “More online travel sites are looking to reduce traffic through their customer service departments by increasing the amount of information they put on their websites. However, as holidays are the single biggest annual purchase for many, people tend to rely on customer service contact to give them confidence in the booking process. A poor experience here will ultimately result in customers retracting their business.

In what is becoming known as an ‘experience economy’, where consumers purchase based on their own and other people’s experiences, it is vital that the travel sector addresses the online customer journey, as this is where they will win business."

While it is fair to acknowledge that the recent ash cloud will have impacted results to an extent, the difference in ranking for those that scored well for customer service and those that didn’t is massive, clearly indicating the potential for market differentiation. Industry best-practice came from Booking.com, who answered 100% of emails, 60% of which received a response within six hours.

Premier Inn beat Booking.com to claim the overall top spot, its second consecutive leading score. Scoring 82.8% (weighted average across all benchmark measures), Premier Inn was rated highly from good first impressions through to its easy to use search function, overall booking process and customer service.

However, its high score wasn’t reflected across the hotel chains sector, with this sector being among the worst performers alongside online travel agents.

While the travel industry is marginally closing the gap with the retail sector, the best performer across multiple industry sectors, there is still a long way to go given the weaker customer service scores. There is more than 10% separating the retail and travel sectors overall with regards to customer service.

Lloyd concludes: “With more people now shopping online and a wealth of choice offered through the online medium, brands need to better engage with consumers in order to retain and attract business. Leading retailers are increasingly involving the customer more through online polls, forums, mini-communities and product ratings. Travel brands need to mirror this approach by developing more interactive websites.”

If you would like to see the full presentation, please visit: https://ecustomeropinions.com/survey/survey.php?sid=206573467

For more information, please contact Natalie Lyndon at Merchant Marketing Group on 023 8021 5389 or natalie(at)merchantmarketinggroup(dot)com

About eDigitalResearch

eDigitalResearch is a leading provider of digital market research, enabling customers to make critical business decisions with the benefit of comprehensive consumer insight and informed direction. eDigitalResearch possesses a unique combination of research expertise, marketing background, web technology and knowledge of the cross-channel consumer. As well as providing invaluable research data, the modules of its fully integrated research system - ratings, surveys, panels, communities and forums - can combine to provide holistic analytics and essential market-leading insight. This gives its clients the power, confidence and backup to make crucial decisions on key aspects of their business including product range, marketing, customer service, supply chain, even basic positioning. For further information, please visit: http://www.edigitalresearch.com.

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