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Lastminute.com flies effortlessly thanks to Transcom’s Customer Care

This article was originally published in the Italian online magazine CMI · 23 MARCH 2017

The partnership between Transcom and lastminute.com (with this company name) started out only a couple of years ago, but its roots go way back. In fact, in 2009, Transcom was managing Customer Care operations for Bravofly, which later, after a merger, became the Bravofly Rumbo Group, until it acquired lastminute.com in March 2015 and took its name.

Over the years, Transcom has accompanied and supported the Group’s rapid growth through its multilingual customer care centres. Even the number of languages in which we assist travellers and holidaymakers has increased over time. All this has consolidated the partnership between these two multinationals. Today, lastminute.com’s customer service is provided in a dozen of languages, including Arabic and Indonesian, thereby taking the tour operator’s offering well beyond the European borders.

All the challenges of customer care

Every day, lastminute.com’s customer care centres receive thousands of bookings or support requests. As a strategic partner, Transcom has perfected the art of handling any requirement, from transporting 15 bicycles to boarding a zebra.

Our Customer Care operators must know everything about the products and services we offer, but they must also be sensitive and have quick thinking, diplomatic, and language skills of the highest level” said Giorgio Bonafini, lastminute.com’s Operations Manager.
Lastminute.com provides a wide range of services, including flights, hotels, holidays, cruises, car rentals, and other travel and leisure services. With an online offering in 17 languages and about 10 million customers per year, the volume of customer care contacts is enormous!

As lastminute.com’s strategic partner, Transcom handles bookings and Customer Care activities by phone, email, and live chat. Bonafini estimates that 60 to 70% of the company’s Customer Management activities are handled by Transcom through these channels. For example, the phone is the channel preferred by Russians “When it comes to Russian customers, we have noticed that they need to be informed and reassured about all the details of their booking. They want to know what can happen in the event of unforeseen events and any possible occurrence. There are so many cultural differences in the way customers get in touch with us and why” explained Bonafini.

And the questions and requests the Call Centres have to answer to can be very different and even unexpected just as the destinations and activities included in the offering. “ can still remember this customer, who wanted to know if he could board a live zebra on the plane,” said Bonafini, who also explained that the operator who was handling this request had to contact the airline to verify whether this request could be met in any way. “For us, it’s very important that operators do whatever they can to ensure the best travel or leisure experience, but that time it was simply impossible. Animals of a certain size simply cannot board an aircraft”.
Then there was that other time, when a customer wanted to check 15 bicycles in addition to their luggage, or that other customer, who didn’t have much knowledge about time zones, but she was travelling west, so she had to set her watch back. “She just couldn't wrap her head around the fact that you could arrive at a destination before the time of departure. We had to explain patiently how time zones work” recalls Bonafini.

Compared to a decade ago, technological developments and the growing use of social media have raised the level of skills a Customer Care operator must have, in terms of expertise, kindness, and diplomacy. And this also applies to those who handle traditional channels, such as the phone or email.

Even if there has been a growing migration to social media, most people still prefer to use traditional channels for their first contact. However, if they’re not satisfied, they may vent on social media, and that can have a very negative impact,” explained Bonafini, adding that his company handles the Group’s Customer Care through social media. “We need to be ready to face any situation. That’s why it’s so important for us to have a solid partner as Transcom. They can ensure a high-quality service at all times”.

Quality and focus on the customer in 28 languages

Transcom’s reorganisation in early 2016 has led to the creation of the new Continental Europe business unit. This new unit includes 23 branches in nine countries and extends its scope to the whole of Europe, thanks to the multilingual centres in Budapest and Gdansk. The Contact Centre services provided by Transcom Continental Europe are managed in 28 languages and include, in addition to the European ones, Chinese, Turkish, Arabic, and Indonesian.

In a global scenario, where many Italian and international companies are expanding in the main sectors, Transcom can support and promote the growth of the most ambitious players beyond their borders.