5.9 Travel

5.9 Travel

Company: Thomas Cook Direct


Thomas Cook Direct has a mission to become a major travel service for holiday and flight bookings. To succeed in this goal, customer care must be second to none. The company is pursuing a reputation as a world-class contact center; it has four separate centers in the United Kingdom and employs more than 1000 CSRs, operates seven days a week, from 8 A.M. to midnight, and handles more than 80,000 calls each week.


The company needed a technology that could support and simplify the process of managing and optimizing a complex and busy workforce, but the solution also had to make financial sense and show quantifiable returns.


The company selected Blue Pumpkin's solution for several reasons. The key differentiators from other products were the capability to schedule staff according to skillsets and the easy-to-use graphical user interface. Contact center managers could now monitor all four centers from their desktop, enabling them to instantly compare resource levels and overlap and identify where staffing and skill levels could be improved for the next day.


The benefits provided by the vendor solution selected included

  • Enabling agents to manage their own schedules through a self-service, browser-based interface-Web-Enabled Self-Service (WESS)

  • Improved morale and satisfaction as a result of empowering agents with the freedom and flexibility to make their own decisions

  • Quick return on investment (ROI)

  • A 25% drop in call-abandon rates

  • Overall 49% productivity improvement and first-year ROI of 3000%

  • 37% increase in agent productivity

  • 40% improvement in service levels

  • 10% reduction in management workload for workforce management functions

  • 47% increase in customer satisfaction ratings

  • 40% improvement in schedule adherence

Chapter 6: Building Customer Relationships with Call Centers


Customer relationship management (CRM) has been defined as a corporate wide approach to understanding customer behavior, influencing it through continuous relevant communication, and developing long-term relationships to enhance customer loyalty, acquisition, retention, and profitability. This chapter describes the importance of the interrelationships between call/contact centers and the stages of developing and implementing a CRM strategy. The center is the first point of customer contact and is therefore the first entree to establishing and maintaining long-term customer relationships.

CRM is often perceived by senior management with mixed feelings-on the one hand, it is a great opportunity to enhance customer relationships and to increase revenues and profitability at the same time, and on the other hand, it is a costly and time-consuming process that will alter fundamentally the corporate culture. CRM is also fraught with the numerous potential pitfalls that confront any major corporate project involving people, processes, and technologies. Aligning the vagaries of operating a call center with CRM poses some serious challenges for corporate executives. CRM is not a technology or even a group of technologies; it is a continually evolving process that requires a shift in attitude away from the traditional internal focus of a business and defines the approach a company takes toward its customers, backed up by a thoughtful investment in people, technology, and business processes.

CRM is a logical step in the series of major commercial and IT initiatives that have been implemented since the 1980s, beginning with downsizing. Most of these early initiatives had a cost-cutting focus on the internal workings of the business, concentrating on employees, working methods, or technology. Increased profitability was the desired result, which was to be engineered through cost savings. All of these initiatives were based on decreasing costs through increasing efficiency, which is one of the key benefits of a successful CRM strategy in addition to its significant impact on the customer.