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How Flight Centre South Africa leveraged its online review community


Jan 26, 2022 11:32:56 AM

Industry: Travel

Main offices: 299 Pendoring Road, Blackheath, Johannesburg, 219 

Result: National industry ranking improved from # 13 to their current national ranking of #2

The company: Flight Centre South Africa

Flight Centre is South Africa's leading travel retailer, offering a comprehensive list of affordable travel solutions and expert advice, allowing customers to navigate the uncertain world of travel with confidence. Flight Centre Travel Experts ensure their customers enjoy incredible holidays and travel with peace of mind from holiday packages, cruises and ski vacations to last-minute hotel deals and travel insurance.

With a focus on implementing accessibility for the local market without compromising service quality, Flight Centre's goal is to become recognised as South Africa's most trusted travel and technology-experience company.

The challenge: Negative vs Positive Reviews

Today, Flight Centre is recognised as one of the top five largest travel agency groups in the world. Over the years, Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa has proudly carried the torch, ensuring South Africans benefit from their internationally benchmarked service quality and best practices to meet customer needs.

Indeed, due to their 'customer-first' sensibilities, Flight Centre South Africa was one of the first local industry service providers to recognise and appreciate the value of strengthening customer relationships by harnessing the power of customer feedback.

Long before it became fashionable, Flight Centre South Africa's Customer Experience Team was dedicated to generating positive consumer feedback.

However, there was a negative perception associated with review platforms or any platforms where you could publically post a complaint. Their Travel Experts' focus on providing only the most positive experiences for their customers meant that every negative review felt very demotivating and was viewed as a significant setback, especially for their customer-facing agents.

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The solution: leveraging the power of customer feedback

Flight Centre partnered with Hellopeter and embarked on a process review to see how customer feedback—both positive and negative—could be leveraged to build more trust, strengthen customer confidence and attract new customers.

It was clear that customer-behaviour indicators, such as price and location, had become less important in this brave new era of informed and empowered travellers.

Their customers, especially in the leisure and business travel sectors, were increasingly focused on finding and rewarding businesses they could trust.

Curated academic surveys, such as the excellent 2008 Texas A & M University Study, confirmed that the main reasons people write online reviews (whether negative or positive) are not to attack the business or individual personally. Instead, it's to inform other customers and help that business improve.

"Over time, we started to understand the true value in asking our customers for feedbackwhether good or bad. We became comfortable in knowing that all feedback was good feedback. Feedback became a catalyst for changes in service and product delivery. Feedback also worked as a gauge in understanding how we were doing as a company. 

We became obsessed with publicly solving customer problems, taking ownership and accountability for our mistakes, and finding speedy resolutions. We also used Hellopeter as an opportunity to educate our customers around common travel-related questions. We rolled out many internal campaigns focused on the power of reviews and what they do for a company in terms of repeat and referral business. Our sales teams started to become comfortable in asking for a review and understood the true value in what feedback could do for their business." 

— Kim Taylor, Customer Experience Director, Flight Centre South Africa.

Realising the power of customer feedback was deeply significant in strengthening Flight Centre’s reputation as an industry thought leader and turning potential customers into satisfied brand ambassadors.

Taking ownership

Today, the Group actively seeks out the negative to efficiently address customer concerns publicly, thereby leveraging these engagements into social proof and sustainable, long term conversations.

"Customers often comment that they are impressed with how we handle negative reviews. We pride ourselves in showing our customers that we are human—we make mistakes. More importantly, we take ownership of any negative reviews and work quickly to solve problems. Many of our travel experts have also had success in referral business. They will receive a call from a prospective customer who has tracked them down based on how well they do on Hellopeter." 

No one is perfect, and for the most part, consumers understand this. Flight Centre strove to demonstrate, both on their own platforms and on trusted review portals, that they genuinely care about their customers. More importantly, they showed that they are willing—and able to—address concerns professionally, efficiently and in real-time.

Flight Centre understands the true value in seeking out and actioning customer feedback—whether good or bad. This culture shift became the catalyst for positive changes in service and product delivery and towards customer success imperatives.

With immediate growth in engagement realised, Flight Centre truly took flight, using powerful customer feedback from its online reviews to strengthen customer relationships and confidence, attract new customers, and grow as a business.

The result:

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"Gone are the days of phoning and emailing customer support departments for assistance. Customers want speedy assistance and even faster resolutions. Customers want to help other customers to make informed decisions about transacting with companies. If we are serious about service and supporting our customers, we must use platforms such as Hellopeter." — Kim Taylor, Customer Experience Director, Flight Centre South Africa.

Since partnering with Hellopeter, Flight Centre has improved across the below metrics:

Flight Centre’s
Hellopeter Trust Index* improved from 2.8 to 9.5
*The Hellopeter Trust Index is a way for consumers to determine how credible your business is. It’s calculated by looking at your average review star ratings, time to reply, the Bayesian average and your review depreciation over time.

Flight Centre’s Net Promoter Score* is currently 46 and climbing.
*This score indicates how likely it is for reviewers to recommend this business. Less than 0 = unlikely, 1 to 49 = likely and above 49 = very likely. For more information on how the NPS is collected and calculated, read more here.

Flight Centre's National industry ranking improved from #13 to their current national ranking of #2.


According to Kim Taylor, Customer Experience Director, Flight Centre South Africa, "what is more important to us is that customers often comment that they are impressed with how we handle negative reviews."
This prioritising of their customers' success has seen a significant increase in their referral business, specifically from consumers prompted to action because of Flight Centre's Hellopeter reviews.

As Kim has learned from her hard-won experience, "review platforms are essential and must be incorporated into any customer experience strategy. It's vital to provide customers with a platform to feel heard and share their experiences. This fosters transparency and trust. It also provides a company with the opportunity to showcase their problem-solving ability and to position themselves as thought leaders, based on how they handle customer feedback."

We couldn't agree more, Kim!

Join the ranks of South Africa's Top Businesses 

If your business is ready to leverage your review community towards verifiable, bottom-line focused, long-term value, then sign up for your FREE Hellopeter Business account today.

Embrace the future of customer experience, and watch your brand take flight!


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