Thomson and First Choice shops to handle customer complaints

Thomson and First Choice shops to handle customer complaints

Thomson and First Choice shops could start to handle customer complaints for the first time.

The move, a result of a full customer services review launched in December, would give extra responsibility to staff in TUI Travel's 880 UK shops.

Already 550 of the company's high-street agencies have broadened their roles to take virtual call centre bookings over the phone during quiet periods. From October they will also deal with all bookings taken by customers in their shop's postcode area.

The latest plan would help nip complaints in the bud where possible, said TUI Travel customer services director Tim Williamson.

He said: "The logic is that shop [staff] know their customers the best. Customers want to get a resolution as quickly as possible and their relationship is with the people who serve them in the shop."

Distribution director Nick Longman claimed the extra work would not put staff under more pressure.

"Work could be done at a time when shops are not busy. What we do not want is shops to become administrative centres," he said.

Instead the move would aim to improve customer relations, with staff better placed to know if their customers' complaints are genuine.

He added: "People have a relationship with their customers and we underplay that ability to resolve issues in the shop."

Currently all complaints are dealt with through the company's Manchester service centre, and this is likely to continue with complex enquiries.

Williamson said the aim of the company's review was to improve customer service businesswide by 'empowering' retail staff and overseas reps.

"If we get customer service right and deal with it fairly and quickly there is a benefit as a business. Neither Thomson nor First Choice has a particularly high complaint ratio - we are not addressing a problem."

Williamson said TUI Travel benchmarked its service against other companies its customers interacted with rather than rival travel firms.




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