The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland caused enormousdisruption to air travel across western and northern Europe over period of six days in April 2010. From 14th to 20th April, ash covered large areas of northern Europe when the volcano erupted. 33 countries closed their airspace to commercial jet traffic. The closure of the airspace left five (5) million travelers stranded around the world. In addition to being stranded, some travelers also encountered VISA issues after arriving unexpectedly at alternate destinations. Additional localised disruption continued into May 2010. The eruption was declared officially over in October 2010, when snow on the glacier did not melt.
At the request of our Airline and Travel Clients, namely four (4) airlines and one Travel Company, Centrecom dynamically expanded its operations in order to assist with improved support services to customers who were affected by these events within hours from the disruption. During the six (6) days of airspace closure, Centrecom received the number of calls equivalent to a full month of normal operations. The abrupt rise in calls translated into several specific initiatives to ensure that the majority of our clients’ customers were supported. Centrecom extended its operational hours and called in its entire workforce in round- the-clock shifts. Throughout this crisis period Centrecom maintained its multi- language capabilities at all times.
For one client Centrecom was integrated into the Operations Control Centre (OCC), providing essential customer feedback at the highest level. Very good communication with this OCC was ensured at all times to ensure we updated customers with expected departure times for their flights. After services were resumed, Centrecom handled all passenger claims, including expense claims for accommodation, transportation, meals and clothing. This service was extended for a period of six months following the event to make provision for all incoming claims.
Centrecom’s clients impacted by the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano eruption benefited from excellent customer support during the disruption. This factor protected their brands, greatly improved their corporate reputations and demonstrated a clear competitive advantage.
The broad media exposure of this particular event allowed stranded passengers to evaluate options by comparing their own experience with others. The excellent service provided by Centrecom guaranteed a positive customer experience, even under trying circumstances, which undoubtedly improved customer retention and improved customer loyalty, later to be reflected in repeat business.
By working in close concert, Centrecom staff and the clients’ staff joined forces with the sole objective of solving problems and creating the absolute best customer experience.
Feedback from customers and clients raised the confidence of these teams, motivating them to even better performance and exceptional productivity. The camaraderie and staff loyalty that emerged during this crisis has had a lasting impact on Organisational culture.
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