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Interview: Agent support that’s designed to Excite


As Excite Holidays continues to grow, most recently with a successful expansion into the USA, the Australian-bred wholesaler is quickly becoming a global force. An integral part of their operation is a growing network of agent support based in Australia and Greece.

 

We sat down with George Papaioannou, Excite Holidays Co-Founder and Executive Director, to discuss the importance of people-based support for agents and how Excite Holidays maintains a quality of service around the clock.

 

Athens, Greece

 

How important is agent support to your business?

It’s incredibly important that we have an effective support network for our growing agent base. We are a technology forward business and we spend a lot of time building a platform that allows agents to easily create and book itineraries with instant booking confirmation.

In an increasingly technological world, we still see the importance in a conversation with a real human being when support is required. It’s why we offer 24/7 support to our agents all over the world.

 

How does the Greek office fit into the support system? 

Over the years Excite Holidays has become a truly global business. The importance of 24/7 customer support means we need a strong team in place across the globe to ensure we are providing a high level of service around the clock.

The establishment of the Greece office has been a great success, with the office growing extensively over the four years it has been in operation. The Greek support team work seamlessly with our Australian operation to ensure we deliver fast and effective agent support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

How do the teams support your agents?

Our Athens contact centre services all our travel agent partners in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and the UK, dealing with anything from web services and API integrations and support, to complaints and resolutions.

The location allows us to provide the best possible customer support 24/7 to our agents and partners all over the world.

 

What are the biggest challenges you face as the business grows?

As we expand into new markets and grow the number of transactions each year, we need to make sure our operations and support teams can adequately meet the needs of our agents.

Automation of our systems and processes resulting in economies of scale, in addition to hiring the right people and using clever data to ensure we are correctly resourcing these teams is important. In an average week we can expect upwards of 5,000 contacts with our support teams.

Maintaining quality service goes far beyond simple headcount, we need to ensure that we are hiring the right people that will be able to deliver the quality service that our agents expect.

 

How have you achieved this?

We’ve gone about this in a number of ways, including hiring dedicated teams that focus on specific areas of service, maintaining and regularly tracking strict KPI’s, listening to agent feedback and using data to ensure we are constantly improving and managing staffing numbers based on expected call volumes. We have also invested in live chat to offer agents an alternative avenue to get customer service.

We made some adjustments to the way our operations were structured after listening to feedback from our agents.

We hired a dedicated training and quality specialist, workforce planning manager and have increased headcount in line with the growth of the business. The results have been fantastic, with big reductions in call and live chat wait times.

 

Written by: George Papaioannou as told to Jon Underwood


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