This report documents my experience at EK Contact Centre in order to document the various things that I learned. It begins by noting that Emirate Airlines has six major contact centers. My experience was from the Dubai center which is a major center supporting thousands of customers per day and offering five languages. The report analyses my Call Shadowing experience that reveals how the consultants deal with the customers. The report also addresses the role of the Shift leader team leader in the contact center. The report concludes by offering the suggestion that the adoption of a career improvement structure can result in an increase in output from the staff at EK CC.
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Emirates Airline has six major contact centers across three continents and they are dedicated to providing optimum services for the customers of the Airline. The major contact centers are located in Dubai, Melbourne, New York, Mumbai, Manchester, and Guangzhou. I had the opportunity to work in the Dubai center, which is one of the major centers. It supports five major languages that are: Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Russian. In this report, I will document what I have learned through my experience at EK Contact Centre and highlight the various systems I used. I will also make recommendations on how the Contact Centre can operate even more efficiently.
Contact Centre Overview
Before I began working at the center, I took it upon myself to learn the goals and objectives of the center. The core objective of the EK contact center is to improve customer service by reducing the call waiting time for each customer to less than 20 seconds and therefore reducing the number of abandoned calls to less than 4%. The center also aims to increase its contribution to the revenue generated from though retail and reservations from the current 5% to 10%. The call center serves thousands of customers per day with the number of daily calls averaging 15,000 each day. Efficiency and quality of service are therefore desirable to ensure that all customers are satisfied.
My first experience entailed call shadowing and this was the first time I was taking part in this activity. The motivation for my call shadowing experience was to enable me to learn how the contact center functioned by observing experienced employees at work. By shadowing live calls between the call consultants and passengers, I was able to gain a lot of insight into the operations of the center. One aspect that stood out for me was that the consultants were always able to address the caller in a professional manner throughout the entire call.
I was introduced to EasyMARS and GAD systems that were integral to the operations of the center. The GAD system was used to verify caller information such as booking reference, traveler’s name, and their date of birth. EasyMARS was the primary system utilized for retrieving booking information and issuing tickets to the customers. From call shadowing, I learned how to use EasyMARS to make reservations. In my call shadowing, I observed how EasyMARS was used to check the booking status and validate the reservation for the customer. I also interacted with the CRIS system that is used to retrieve skywards information and perform skyward actions. The Skyward membership status fosters loyalty to EK.
From my call shadowing, I observed that the consultant always listens carefully to the requests made by the customer and proceeds to check the availability of flights on the requested dates on the same booking class and on different higher classes. The consultant then checks the booking fare rules and restrictions on EasyMARS and makes the information clear for the passenger especially if any penalties apply. The customer experience does not end there since the consultant provides the customer with other services such as special seat arrangements and special meal requests, and chauffeur services for first and business class passengers.
The customer is then provided with additional information on the checking in options, time of check-in at the airport, and baggage allowance. When signing off calls, the consultant expressed his/her gratitude to the customer for their call and understanding. The notes and remarks made on EasyMARS and GAD have to be clear and understandable so that other staff can follow up on them if need be.
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Emirates Airline has a number of fare categories. My experience introduced me to the various categories of fares. I learned that there exist three major classes of fares for adults, children, and infants. The discounts awarded are dependent on the fare type. The infant fare receives the greatest discount of 90% while child fares earn 75%. However, unaccompanied minors (5-12 years old) are required to pay an adult fare. The adult fare is not discounted unless there was a special offer.
The validity of the ticket is dependent on the ticket fare. Some tickets are valid for up to one year. There are a number of restrictions applied to tickets. To secure a ticket, the customer has to pay within a set time since there is a time limit for ticket issuance after reservations have been made. Payment should be made within 24hrs if the travel date is after 2-3 days while payment should be made within 3 days if the travel date is after 6 days. The call center accepts a number of payment methods that include: credit cards, bank transfers, and Western Union transfers.
In my second week, I was introduced to the back office function team. The function team engages in a number of important tasks for the EK including MEDA, Queues, Refunds, OKtoboard, DXBRREK mailbox, and sales closing.
My first task was to learn how the DXBRREK mailbox team operates. To help in my experience, I engaged in the shadowing of a mailbox team member. The team for communication between departments used the DXBRREK inbox. The emails obtained here also came from outstations. The emails from the NCC addressed issues such as flight delays and flight cancellations. Those from the yield management dealt with flights overbooking.
The movement (MVT) emails on flight delays were received at least 3-4 hours before flight departure. The contact center was required to take action such as calling passengers and informing them of the same. The passengers were called in a specific order: First – Business – IO – Economy. The Chauffer Service Disk was also informed of these delays. The Stopover Disk was notified and accommodation cancellations and changes were made.
In the case of an aircraft change, a record was made but the passengers were not informed. For overbooked flights, the yield management sent a list of confirmed ticketed passengers to the call center. These passengers had to be called and notified of the flight change due to overbooking and offered the option of a free ticket or an upgrade to the next class.
Action of queues
The function team also took care of the queues that consisted of actions that needed to be done. Most of these actions were made up of schedule changes and unaccompanied minors. The PN mark meant pending while KK or HK denoted confirmed. Q0 and Q1 were designated urgent and they dealt with crucial issues such as flight time changes, waitlist confirmation, change of seat confirmation, meals confirmation, and chauffer confirmation. Q50 dealt with errors made by staff such as duplicate booking. Q82 addressed unaccompanied minors and made a check for escort details. Q85 was designated urgent and addressed schedule changes. Q48 was also urgent and it contained messages from outstations. Q73 dealt with chauffer services, Q3 schedule changes, and Q81 MEDA.
Another critical department operated by the Functions Team is MEDA. The primary role of this department is to deal with passengers who have health conditions. The passengers were required to give detailed descriptions of their health conditions so that pre-arrangements could be made. For example, the passenger had to say if they needed wheelchair assistance so that arrangements for this could be made.
Passengers are made aware of the fact that EK does not provide any medical assistance in-flight and passengers with severe conditions could therefore not be accommodated. To help assess the condition of the customer, passengers with medical issues were required to complete the MEDIF form. This form is a legal document that is filled by both the passenger and an assigned Emirates doctor. The passenger fills in a one-page form and sends the form back to the MEDA department. The Emirates doctor confirms if the passenger is fit to fly and the approval takes 48 hours to process.
Ok to board visa messages
Once a customer has been cleared to fly, they are given the OK to board. Passengers are at liberty to change their travel date but in this case, they have to produce a Fit to Fly certificate in order to be processed. Once a passenger is cleared to fly, they are given the OK to board. The Okay to Board mailbox receives Emails from passengers to verify their visas. The ASU mailbox receives Emails from travel agencies to verify visa.
The Function Team also deals with Tele-Sales and Closing ticket sales. The tickets closed by the department I worked with were issued by the Dubai Call center. Tele involved balancing the Excel sheet and the system. Closing of sales took place the next day after the actual sale had been made. I was introduced to the three types of IATA. IATA Code 1 dealt with tickets that had no fare difference IATA code 2 involved Dubai based sales dealing with international Currencies. The last IATA code 3 Involves fare difference in Indian Rupees.
The Management Information System (MIS) team acts as the backbone for the entire center since it supports the functions of all operations. This team provides all reports from the historical data available, creates the dashboard that facilitates discussions on performance, and receives and sends information to the relevant departments.
The Total Quality Management Team was responsible for checking the quality of the services offered by the contact center. Random audit calls were made to check the quality of services provided by agents. An end of month evaluation on the team leaders was also made to check their accuracy. A calibration clinic was facilitated by the TQM team to ensure that errors were reduced and any questions concerning the quality process were answered.
The Dubai Contact Centre Operation Officers mailbox handled complaints from consultants, team leaders, and officers and provided solutions for the problems raised.
During my third week, I learned the roles and responsibilities of the shift leader. This was achieved by shadowing the 07:00 shift leader who had a number of key responsibilities. The Shift Leader has to have some qualities in order to effectively perform his job. He needs to have a customer service orientation and be a team player. He has to have good communication skills and lead by example. The leader also needs to be able to pay attention to detail and demonstrate organization for results.
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His primary task was to manage the consultants in order to increase their productivity. He ensured that the consultants adhere to do the schedules, took their breaks, and managed time well. The shift leader is able to direct, monitor, and control shift and daily operational productivity with the aim of achieving optimum results. The shift leader assists the agents by offering advice when the consultant is having trouble. He also assists in the management of customer escalations since he is the contact point between the consultants and management.
A key role of the Shift Leader is SQL monitoring which helps him to manage the workforce. He assesses the roster page to ensure that each agent follows his or her plan. All tasks which include; meetings, training, briefings, and breaks have to be engaged in. The roster is structured in a manner that optimizes the performance of each consultant. It is necessary for the shift leader to be able to monitor the agents at all times.
One of the tools used by the scheduled leader is the pulse. This application monitors agents performance by the minute and second. The shift leader is able to tell what the agent is doing at any given time. The leader maintains an adherence page that records any non-adherence by an agent during the shift. This page is color-coded with the yellow color indicating that an agent is non-adhering while the red color indicates that the agent is severely non-adhering.
The shift leader is also charged with managing and troubleshooting any operational issues that may arise in order to ensure the flawless operation of the contract center services and keep the quality of services offered to the customer at high levels all the time. The shift leader comes up with action to address unplanned staff shrinkage caused by sickness, absenteeism, or emergency leave. This ensures that the level of staff is sufficient at all times.
My final stage was learning the operations of the team leader. To do this, I shadowed a team leader through his daily operations. In the EK contact center, the role of the leader is to deal with complaints or inquiries from either the customers or the consultants. The team leader is in charge of a group of consultants and it is his role to ensure that their performance is above standard. The team leader is dedicated to ensuring that the quality of service provided by the consultants is the best. He reports to the quality officers on a number of issues.
Handling of complaints
To ensure that excellent services are being offered to the customers, the team leader handles complains and monitors the agents. He moves around the office assisting the consultants as required and coaching them. These tasks make up 80% of what the team leader does.
The team leader also handles problems from the airports. He is authorized to issue Okays to board messages.
Types of reports
The Team leader deals with a number of reports. The most important report handled by the team leader is the scorecard. The MIS department produces this report and it contains an assessment of the team performance. The performance is detailed which enables the team leader to properly review the individual performance of the team consultants.
The team leader also engages in performance follow up. By reviewing the scorecards on a weekly basis, objectives are made and each consultant is required to meet the quality, productivity, adherence, and revenue goals. The attendance report is also reviewed on a monthly basis and follows up on performance made. The quality officer provides the team leader with feedback on the performance of his team’s consultants. Consultants who perform 50% or below on a call are flagged down and brought to the attention of the team leader.
Day to day operations
The team leader has a wide array of roles in the EK CC. He takes calls from customers when the consultant escalates a customer’s call. He also walks around the office so that consultants can flag him down in case they need assistance. This constant walking around is necessary since consultants are advised not to move from their stations. However, moving around means that team leaders have little time for meetings and briefings.
The team leader takes outstation calls and coordinates with other departments in case any issue arises. The team leader also reads and replies to emails concerning daily operations. He also listens and evaluates random calls for each consultant to ensure that the consultant is providing good service.
The EK CC was very effective at ensuring that all workers were productive. However, I feel that a lot could be done to motivate the staff to perform even better. One way that this can be achieved is by giving the employees a well-defined means of advancing their career within the company. In all organizations, employees are looking for ways to advance their lives, and being promoted at work is one of these ways. If the EK Contact Centre has a structure providing clear procedures for promotions and opportunities, it will encourage the staff to work hard within the organization. Such a move will also ensure that the commitment and loyalty of the employees are secured by EK CC and this will lead to even better performance.
My experience at the EK contact center was very informative. I was able to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of a contact center. I also learned the roles that the various departments in the center play and how they all work together in order to provide exemplary services for the customers. The experience introduced me to a number of new systems that are used to enhance the operations of Emirates Airline Contact Centre.
The importance of having quantifiable means of measuring success was stressed on me from observing the quality assessing tools employed by EK CC. I believe that the knowledge and skills I gained during my experience at the EK contact center will continue to be useful to me for many years to come.