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One of Australia’s newest airlines is determined to be different.  

While the low-cost newcomer has promised to deliver a distinctly unique travel experience as compared to its more established peers, it’s not only its flights that are a departure from the norm. When the airline was launched, its executives decided to come to market with a digital-first approach. That meant the main way customers would reach out to its customer care team was through their app or through their website.

Much of the contact centre is automated by chatbots, while a small team monitors chat lines. If customers need to escalate their enquiry, they can be transferred to a voice team, who will call the customer. It’s a strategy pioneered by Frontier Airlines in the United States, which made ripples in the aviation sector last year when it announced it was removing its call centre in an effort to improve customer service. 

Claire Ross, a Channel Manager at TSA Group who assisted in establishing the new Australian airline’s customer care network, says the digital-first approach was designed to make everything easier for customers. 

“That seamless integration between chat and voice was really probably the pivotal piece that made going to market digitally successful,” Ms Ross says.  “And customers really like the flexibility that a digital-first approach provides.  

If you’re a customer that has a question, it’s a lot more effort to pick up your phone and make a phone call versus sending a chat, which is similar to googling an answer. We find that customers really like that kind of flexibility that it provides.” 

Real-time access

Ms Ross says the digital-only first approach was adopted in response to customer demand for a seamless experience in accessing information not only in real-time but also using as little effort as possible. 

“Customers don’t just want a seamless online journey, they expect it these days,” she says.  

“And what I’ve seen is if a customer can’t find information quickly online, sometimes that means that they’ll go to the next provider that can give them that information. It’s important for companies to have that competitive edge and keep up with the market.” 

The airline’s cutting-edge approach is in line with best practices in contact centres. Research shows chatbots have had a 92 per cent increase in use since 2019, with nearly two-thirds of customers willing to interact with a robot rather than waiting for a customer service representative to take their call.

Driving the rise of the chatbots is frustration – a survey by Tidio showed 53 per cent of respondents found waiting too long for replies was the most frustrating part of interacting with businesses. And if the alternative was to wait 15 minutes for an answer, the survey showed 62 per cent of consumers would prefer to talk to the chatbot. 

Ms Ross says one of the key aspects of the digital approach was personalisation, and ensuring customers experienced the feeling of interacting with a carefully curated brand. 

“There is certainly a risk of losing a little bit of personalisation and feeling a little bit robotic, but you can mitigate that through providing adequate training to your frontline team handling the messaging solutions,” Ms Ross says.  

“Clearly outlining your brand tone to your team is super important. And it’s not just about your brand personality, you want to create a safe space for your team to portray their personality as well.”

“If we all think back to a memorable customer experience that we’ve had, it’s because the person on the other end went above and beyond and was able to add that personal touch. That can be really challenging to do over text, so that needs to be a key part of the onboarding – ensuring the team understands emotion and can interpret text cues.”  

Enhancing the experience

TSA Group Senior Operations Manager Kelly Whippy says the airline, which predominantly services regional destinations, was also careful in ensuring its user interfaces were easy to use. 

“One of the ways we can mitigate the risk of customers not being technology-literate is to offer user-friendly interfaces, as well as clear instructions on how to use those digital platforms,” she says.  

“And it’s all integrated. The customer can purchase their ticket through the app, they can access their boarding pass through the app, and they have their onboard entertainment through the app. And if they want to reach out to the team, it’s also through the app. It’s a one-stop shop for the customer’s journey.” 

Ms Whippy says she expects the digital-first approach to gain momentum in coming years, particularly outside of the tourism sector. 

“It’s not just travel, a lot of companies in a lot of industries have been leveraging technology, especially with customer interactions,” she says.  

“We can see it in the telecommunications space, and we’re also increasingly seeing it in the retail and e-commerce space as well – online retailers rely heavily on it. There is certainly the opportunity for every industry to leverage digitisation in some way.

But it’s also important to note that digitalisation is not just chat, it’s the seamless integration between your customer experience and online platforms, whether that means self-serving information or providing answers online.

“It’s more about creating a seamless customer experience in general, versus just enabling chat as a functionality for your customers to use.  

Customers want the exact same experience and want to be provided the same information if they’re speaking to you over a message, over the phone or if they’re visiting a local branch.” 


TSA are Australia’s market leading specialists in CX Consultancy and Contact Centre Services. We are passionate about revolutionising the way brands connect with Australians. How? By combining our local expertise with the most sophisticated customer experience technology on earth, and delivering with an expert team of customer service consultants who know exactly how to help brands care for their customers.

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