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Delivering ‘Smart-Care’ on IVR

Ask a consumer their favourite part of calling customer support (post-buy) of any popular brand, and you’re most likely to get a raised eyebrow or a have-you-lost-it look!

To stay true to being a Product Company, we believe our Products should be intuitive to even first time users; and should we fall short we’ll spare no effort to get it right. This translates into customer support mostly being a post-booking necessity for us, with the choice of support channel left to customers.

While consumers are increasingly adopting self-help tools, to conclude that the majority have moved away from phone support may not be right, at least in the business of travel. Telephonic support remains the widely preferred mode for customer support in India, though the very same consumer is comfortable buying online, especially on mobile.

What did we want to solve?

When consum­ers’ post-booking travel needs involve additional cost, warrant near-instant resolution, and carry the risk of prolonged/multiple interactions, phone support can entail undesirable anxiety levels. The outcomes can lie anywhere from relief to frustration.

This is what we decided to address – replace anxiety with reassurance, and build trust that every consumer reaching out will be taken care of.

This required maximising quick resolutions on first interaction. And, when constrained deliver assurance, owning customers’ needs to resolution within committed timelines.

To deliver this on IVR we had to achieve the following:

  1. Recognise
    Provide customer identity + context to the Customer Service Executive (CSE)

    • Recognise customers calling from unregistered numbers (for bookings of family and friends, and from residence/office landlines)
    • Identify booking for which customer is calling (address challenges of providing booking reference on IVR leading to repeat calls, increasing customer effort and call volumes)
  2. Prioritise
    Identify customers for priority assistance (Customers traveling within 2 to 24 hrs)
  3. Minimise
    Reduce wait time to a minimum

    • Identify specific requirement in the booking selected
    • Provide instant resolution through self-care, Or Assign appropriate CSE in shortest time
      (Exhaustive options on IVR intended to benefit customers, only increase the time customers spend waiting to reach a CSE)

Solution and Benefits

Back on the drawing board, we reviewed the IVR set up, including all applications that needed to work in sync to build the stress-free consumer experience. We were clear we wanted our IVR to not just be feature rich but customized with intelligence and business logics for a superlative customer experience.

1) Customer Recognition
Unrecognised callers (80%), had to provide travel date + contact number to identify booking. ~25% of total callers were successful in reaching a CSE
75% of customers are recognised by IVR
70% of total callers find required information or reach CSE in the first attempt
2) Booking Identification
Customers had to reach the CSE and provide a booking reference, to communicate requirement
IVR retrieves customer bookings and ~55% select the first trip offered; others select trip of choice (wait time to desired menu option reduced by 75% for customers selecting first trip)
3) Contextual IVR Options
Post identification, customers had to navigate the IVR menu until they find the desired option (From booking type – flights, hotels, etc., to options within each booking type)
Customers are now offered only relevant options based on context, i.e. based on booking type and status
E.g. For flight bookings, the refund status option is only available if a flight was cancelled
4) Automating standard info and actions
Customers spent time navigating IVR Menu and waiting for a CSE for standard information (cancellation policy, refunds, etc.)
Automated self-care options benefited ~20% of customers, opting for instant information that IVR provides, without CSE intervention
(email ticket, cancel flight, check refund status)


The benefits we achieved have been very encouraging:

  • Recognition: We achieved a three-fold growth in recognising customers, and booking of their choice at the very first step, a significant majority of calls received.
  • Priority Queue: Nearly all customers identified for immediate assistance, opt for priority and jump the queue, to be assisted by a CSE in under 20 seconds.
  • Customers dropping from IVR: Drop off has reduced by 50% owing to customer-booking recognition, resulting in call-backs from customers reducing to a negligible level!
  • Higher CSE Availability: With ~20% adopting self-care options and along with drop in call-backs ~30% of call volumes don’t need CSEs, enabling faster service to other customers reducing the overall wait time.


While we’re happy we could make a difference, we’re back to the drawing board solving for the next level of IVR experience our customers truly deserve, and you will hear from us soon.