The accumulation of manual processes is inevitable in business travel management as you strive to integrate customer specific policies, route deals and other oddities into the unflinching GDS workflow.
To begin with, manual processes may be few and may seem manageable – a small price to pay for retaining a happy customer. But, as time goes on and the number of manual processes grows, their impact becomes more negative. Suddenly, each booking calls for the consultant to search their memories or the company’s files looking for every relevant customer policy, route deal, traveller preference, reporting peculiarity, cost centre, etc, etc, etc. The draw down on resources and the potential for error becomes great.
Benefits of automating manual processes
If some or all of these manual processes were automated, your TMC would realise significant benefits:
When time consuming manual processes are automated and consultants can concentrate on fare finding, customer service and quality data entry, individual productivity will go through the roof. They’ll be more motivated to boot.
Fewer damaging errors
Remove the need for consultants to manually enforce policies and you remove the potential for them to either forget them or to get them wrong. Damaging errors become a thing of the past.
More satisfied customers
With fewer errors and greater productivity, customers will receive a higher level or service. Little things like fewer rings before an answer, quicker replies to emails and more attentive consultants all make for happier customers.
Sell more ancillary services
Without the distraction of manually implementing all manner of policies, your consultants can be more switched on to the needs of your accounts and their travellers, offering the ideal upgrades and ancillary services when they are needed most.
With lower costs coming from increased productivity and accuracy, your existing team of consultants can service more customers. Add this to the increased opportunity to sell additional services and happier customers in general and you have all the ingredients of a more profitable TMC.
Things to consider when automating processes
In general, the things you should bear in mind when automating processes are the same for a TMC as they are for any other business. Things like making sure you understand your workflow, knowing the cost of manual implementation, looking at the big picture to avoid creating new bottlenecks, seeking efficient and flexible solutions, etc, all apply.
One factor that is perhaps unique to TMCs that needs to be considered is the lifecycle of the process. If the manual process in question is a company-wide, inter-systems accounting process, for example, then a dedicated, bespoke, scripted solution may be the most appropriate solution.
For customer specific policies and route deals, however, the right solution needs to be able to cope with frequent change.