-- VP of Marketing, Vantage Deluxe World Travel
Vantage Deluxe World Travel is a well-respected tour operator with over 30 years of experience in creating high-quality yet affordable travel programs for mature travelers. Faced with mounting customer service call center costs and an ever-growing set of customers clamoring for self-service, Vantage turned to Miller Systems to design and deliver “My Account” – an essential self-service tool for passengers who’ve already booked a trip – an audience that numbers in the tens of thousands per year.
The problem/The opportunity
Vantage needed to allow passengers – in real-time - to perform essential tasks related to their trips that were previously only possible through live calls with CSRs. Highlights of the required functionality included providing the customer with the ability to:
- Review and make changes to all details of upcoming trips (air, hotel, cruise cabin selections, etc.);
- View an advance the status of any key travel compliance requirements (passports, visas, etc.);
- Add or manage optional excursions
- Purchase travel insurance
- Make online credit card and/or ACH payments in advance of critical deadlines
The Key Challenges:
- Legacy systems. Like many businesses with two plus decades of history, Vantage’s passenger management system is built on a legacy iSeries IBM platform. Replacing the back end database was not an option.
- No pre-existing self-service of any kind. The “green screen” interfaces that CSRs interact with when assisting customers with itineraries were never intended to be used by anyone but a trained person at Vantage.
- Tight timetable. Vantage needed to enable self-service in less than six months from the time the project was started.
Technologies Used in Solution
- Rocket (formerly Seagull) LegaSuite
- Custom Microsoft .NET software
Miller Systems provided Vantage with essential leadership and critical expertise to define, design and build the My Account experience. Here’s a brief summary of how the project was performed and how labor was divided between the two teams:
- During the definition of the experience, Miller Systems took ownership over the project to:
- Perform a rigorous cross-functional interview/discovery process, capturing key processes, complex business rules, and experience requirements
- Define detailed functional specs and design user experience wireframes
- Define the technical solution architecture and tool selection (including a build vs. buy analysis)
- Define detailed technical specifications for all data and experience tiers
- Define key performance and conversion metrics for post-launch analysis and improvement
- Provide project management throughout process
- Miller Systems led the overall build/implementation process as well, providing key leadership as follows:
- Created a smart development plan that leveraged the Vantage’s in-house and Miller Systems development teams, assigning the right tasks to the respective experts
- Developed a critical “assembly line” approach that allowed the team to meet a very aggressive deadline
- Oversaw the entire development process for both teams
- Implemented Rocket LegaSuite for iSeries for the critical integration with the legacy passenger management system
- Developed custom .NET software for data and experience tiers
- Delivered key performance metrics using Webtrends
Substantial feature set on Day 1
Over 80 screens and features were delivered for the launch of My Account, representing the vast majority of all frequently asked questions and tasks performed by CSRs in the process.
Return on Investment
Vantage substantially reduced their call center costs almost immediately following the launch of My Account , recuperating all costs for the project in less than 12 months.
Vantage passengers can manage their trip without customer service’s assistance – and they can do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. An average passenger can make simple changes in a matter of seconds instead of calling into the call center during specified hours and waiting for a representative to help them.
Popular features for passengers include trip extensions, the purchase of optional excursions, pre and post trip surveys, profile management, and simplified standard travel forms that must be completed prior to departure – all without assistance from Vantage customer service representatives. It’s a win-win for Vantage and all of their passengers.