The travel industry will be particularly vulnerable to struggling consumer confidence as the summer peak holiday period gets underway.

Confidence remained flat in the second quarter of the year amid continued economic uncertainty, according to the latest Deloitte consumer tracker survey.

However, customer experience expectations show no signs of slowing, with more than half of UK consumers feeling more loyal towards brands that show a deeper understanding of their preferences and priorities.

Responding to the Deloitte report, business transformation service provider Teleperformance Digital Integrated Business Services (TP DIBS), said: “This means that now more than ever, businesses will be focussing on providing a seamless digital customer experience, optimising customer engagement.

“While technologies like AI and automation will be critical for businesses to remain competitive in these times of such low consumer confidence, it is important not to overlook the importance of in-person human interaction.

“Retailers with omni-channel strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers and any businesses failing to focus directly on customer experience will struggle with customer retention.”

A spokesman added: “Holidays are often one of the first things to be removed from the budget in times of low consumer confidence.

“It is essential, therefore, to provide the best possible customer experience to those still travelling this summer, in order to remain competitive and avoid losing these customers in the future.”

Alluding to threatening strike action by pilots and airport workers over the summer, the spokesman added: “With the inevitable travel disturbance on the way, customers will expect real-time updates on the status of their delayed and cancelled flights.

“Airline disruption management will be key to keeping passengers informed and mitigating customer frustration.

“Airlines are facing increased pressure to ensure their claims are processed on time in order to avoid bad publicity and to protect their brand value.

“This is highlighted by airline CEOs who have recently warned of their claim management processes, especially EU 261 claims which have added additional pressures around compliance; thus stressing how much organisations are focussed on customer satisfaction.”

TP DIPS executive vice president Anish Kapoorsaid: “This is traditionally the busiest time of the year for both airlines and passengers.

“As an annual occurrence, preparing adequately for the inevitable summer rush should be a top priority. Airlines must be prepared to process the high volume of customer requests and engagements, as this will not only ameliorate their disrupted customers, but also alleviate the stress felt by the airlines’ frontline staff.

“One way to do this would be to use assisted automation to deal with re-accommodation and flight re-booking, as it eases pressure on back office staff and speeds up the process of having to do it manually.

“Customers have at their disposal a myriad of ways of contacting the airlines and voicing their dissatisfaction – dissatisfaction expressed over social media will be expected and negative publicity based on confusion can spread like wildfire.

“Airlines need to have their finger on the pulse and must have a strategy in place to reach out to affected customers, even if they are still in the process of resolving the issue.”

tw6