We put live chat services to the test
4 Aug 2017 - by Sue van Winsen
It has become increasingly important for travel management companies and agencies to embrace a multi-platform approach when it comes to booking requests. While some customers may prefer to walk into a brick-and-mortar agency, others are more comfortable picking up the phone, while others prefer sending through requests via email or even social media. The latest platform to hit SA agencies though, is live chat from the agency’s website. TAM put three agencies’ live chat facility to the test.
Part of the newly launched Renniestravel.com website is a live chat option. The chat window was very prominent and visible on the website – located in the bottom right-hand side of the screen and marked ‘Chat with us’. Customers are able to type in their request straight away, without filling out any forms or sending through additional information.
I sent my message and straight away a message appeared to show that the consultant had received my request and was busy typing. I received a very quick response from the consultant within one minute of submitting my request.
The only negative was that the response was very generic and did not address any of the questions in my request. Instead, the consultant simply advised that I should email my request to CustomerSupport@renniestravel.com. As I had chosen the live chat as my preferred method of engagement, it may have been better for the consultant to communicate via this medium.
However, I continued to send through questions and the consultant did attempt to answer some of them, even suggesting several destinations as options for my travel request. She did continually request that I rather make contact via email though and eventually ended the chat before I had a chance to finish asking my questions.
Rennies’ chat facility included an option for me to rate my chat at the end of the conversation and provide feedback via a comment box.
Pentravel’s chat option is not situated on the homepage and requires the user to click on the ‘Enquire Now’ button at the top of the site before being directed to the contact page, which includes the usual online request form as well as live chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of the page.
I was impressed with the look of the chat screen and was prompted to enter my name, email address and phone number before submitting my question. The software then showed me all the details for the consultant who would be addressing my question – along with her name, contact details and photo.
The agent asked whether I’d like her to send me an email to discuss my request, but instead I opted to continue our conversation via the live chat box. Unfortunately, my Internet connection dropped before we could continue – but I was very impressed that, using the limited information I had submitted in my initial enquiry, she promptly emailed me with several personalised questions relating to my request.
Club Travel’s live chat feature is prominently featured on the main homepage. It didn’t require any of my details prior to launching the chat. Within seconds of my enquiry, I received a response from a consultant, Jacqui. I was extremely impressed with her informative and detailed responses – which were completely personalised and very quick. She also kept her tone upbeat and lighthearted, which was in line with my leisure booking request.
She was able to engage within the confines of the live chat platform and didn’t push me to move my communication to another channel such as email. At the same time, she subtly encouraged action from my side, mentioning that flights were likely to fill up for my chosen destination and urged that we quote and book urgently.
Club Travel’s live chat platform also allowed me to use emoticons, email myself a transcript of the chat and upload files to the chat window.