Technology enabled us to double down on customer service through the pandemic: Ashish Vikram, SpiceJet

India’s largest cargo airline and leading budget carrier SpiceJet is no stranger to thriving in the face of adversity.

The decade-and-half old company came back from the brink of collapse in 2014 to chart one of the country’s most successful aviation stories. Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh who led this turnaround is known to look for opportunity in adversity, and this is now part of the company’s DNA.

Not surprisingly, the airline, which was in the midst of a technology transformation when the pandemic hit, saw it as an opportunity to intensify its innovation efforts.

From delivering in-flight entertainment on personal devices to bringing contactless procedures to airports, Ashish Vikram, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at SpiceJet, talks about how the company has skilfully leveraged its technology relationships to serve its customers and the country during the pandemic

The business of customer experience
“Well before the pandemic, we were looking for a technology partner to help achieve our goal of being available to the customer at all times on multiple channels. Customer experience is very critical in the hospitality space. ‘We care’ is our overall value statement and we needed a 360-degree view of the customer across channels.” says Ashish Vikram, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at SpiceJet Limited.

“This goal of customer centricity was initially hindered by siloed customer data that sat on multiple disparate systems. As a company that continually innovates, we were looking for a solution that would be able to provide us with the right kind of support and flexibility to deliver a seamless customer experience. SpiceJet sought a single platform that would unify these data sources, which led to the decision of partnering with Salesforce,” says Vikram.

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Omnichannel is the way forward
SpiceJet customers interact with the company across multiple touchpoints – from calling in to make reservations, raise queries, to using email and social media for queries and refund requests. Also, SpiceJet and third-party staff use an airport app to raise cases on the spot at the airport.

Tickets from these multiple touch-points are integrated into Salesforce Service Cloud. The reservation and customer experience teams use this unified view of customer interactions to serve customers better. The company’s Service Cloud has offered service agents instant access to complete customer data, which has significantly increased first call resolution from 18% to 31%.

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“As the lockdown restrictions were announced in India in 2020, customer queries regarding cancellations and refunds doubled almost overnight. We needed to come up with quick solutions to ensure that our contact centre teams were able to transition smoothly to a work – from – home set up, while also maintaining the same level of customer service. With Salesforce, our agents continued to have seamless access to tickets, requests and customer data, making the transition to work-from-home a breeze. And SpiceJet customers hardly felt any disruption,” says Vikram.

“To efficiently manage the increasing call volume, we implemented Service Cloud Digital Engagement, which went live within days. With Digital Engagement, we deployed Live Agent chat and a chatbot integrated with web and mobile sites, and What’sApp. The chatbot now automates and handles 65% of customer queries across all channels. As a result, customer cases generated via email have reduced by 61%. With non-voice support through Live Agent, the average employee response time over chat has reduced from 37.2 seconds to 25.5 seconds. Overall, we have been able to handle double the case volumes with the same number of agents,” notes Vikram.

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To provide Covid-safe contactless experiences, SpiceJet has also enabled the chatbot to check-in customers over What’s App for their flights. Customers can now check in and receive their e-boarding pass on their mobiles. This was a national first. With 99% of passengers web checking in over multiple channels, SpiceJet has seen a drastic drop in passenger waiting times at the airport.

Taking no-touch models a step further, the company has also introduced apps for baggage management. SpiceJet and airport staff use the mishandled baggage app and the lost-and-found app built on Salesforce Experience Cloud to lodge baggage-related complaints.

Exploring new horizons for B2B customers relationships
“At Spicejet, we also leverage Sales Cloud to efficiently manage B2B relationships such as SpiceJet chartered flights, and subsidiaries SpiceJet Technic for ventilator sales and SpiceXpress for cargo. The Sales teams use the Salesforce mobile app to access booking data in real-time and actively manage travel agency and aggregator site relationships,” says Vikram.

In addition, automated processes and digital approvals have led to new travel agents being onboarded within eight hours, compared to eight days earlier. Agents have started making bookings and seeing revenue in-flows within a day. The SpiceJet team is now working on making greater use of Sales Cloud capabilities. Shortly, salespeople will have the right metrics and powerful reports to track and close sales without losing opportunities.

The clever use of technology has brought clear benefits to the company. Rich reports help the management team to monitor case closure times, call resolution, and the nature of complaints; thereby helping the company address customer needs more promptly.

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“Salesforce has given us an insight into customer behaviour. Our customer satisfaction has improved significantly. Even during Covid times, customer satisfaction levels have remained high despite unforeseen circumstances,” added Vikram.

Deepak Pargaonkar, VP, Solution Engineering, Salesforce India added,
“In a post-pandemic world, the relationships between organisations, their customers and technology will continue to evolve. A strong digital strategy is essential to be available to customers 24/7 at multiple touchpoints, throughout the customer journey.

Our partnership with SpiceJet further enabled the goal of ‘customer centricity’ by providing a single view of the customer. This was initially hindered by siloed customer data that sat on multiple disparate systems.

While Salesforce has empowered the teams at SpiceJet to significantly improve customer satisfaction during an unprecedented scenario. Our solutions have also helped to efficiently manage B2B relationships.”



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