Thomas Cook is setting up a new dedicated trade telephone number and employing 35 extra staff following complaints from agents struggling to get through to its call centre in recent weeks.
Alastair Brass, service, quality and transformation director at Thomas Cook, has written to Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer this week to explain what action the company is taking after agents complained they were spending hours trying to get through to the company on the phone and via its Live Chat facility.
In the letter, Brass blamed long call waiting times on “teething problems” after the closure of its Bradford call centre earlier this year and the relocation of its agent call centre to its Falkirk and Peterborough offices.
He said: “We recognise and accept that the current level of service being offered is unacceptable.”
“It is fair to say there have been some teething problems in making the transfer and as you can appreciate we have had to undertake an extensive training regime to bring our new colleagues up to speed with systems and processes to enable them to maximise the support they are able to offer.”
Details of the new telephone number, live from Monday May 6, are being sent to third-party agents. It is 0844 879 8222.
The company is also recruiting 20 new staff for its call centre to help cope with the volume of calls, increasing the number of staff in its Live Chat team from four to 19 over the next fortnight, and expanding the number of staff able to answer wedding and special assistance calls.
Brass urged agents to check its Frequently Asked Questions section, which is being updated daily with hundreds of new questions, use its online Live Chat facility as an alternative to ringing the call centre and “only call if necessary”.
He also suggested agents call before 9am or after 6pm when the call centre is quieter.
He added: “While we understand agent frustration, we have noted that a number of agents have been blocking phone lines by calling us on multiple phone lines – this simply increases wait times for all users.”
Already the company has extended its opening hours to 8am to 10pm, updated its FAQ section, launched a new Live Chat tool and opened it up to third-party agents. It now has an online form for special assistance requests and an email address for non-urgent queries.
There is also a new 24 hour cancellation process which enables agents to cancel bookings using a form instead of phoning, while agents can also cancel bookings outside 24 hours without the need to call.
A spokesman said: “We’d like to thank our agent partners for their patience and apologise for any delays they’ve experienced.”
Abta said it was aware of agents experiencing difficulties but said it in fact received “very few calls” from agents. “This suggests these measures are working to relieve many agents’ frustrations,” a spokesman said.
The letter is reproduced in full on its Abta Today e-newsletter and on abta.com.
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