Microsoft Travel Embraces Unified Communications to Enhance Travel Service, Conserve Costs
Every day, approximately 5,000 Microsoft employees travel. In fact, the company spends more than US$800 million each year to get them where they need to be. In all, nearly 10,000 reservations across 75 countries each week are made for Microsoft employees.
Microsoft Travel wanted to harness the latest technology to streamline the travel experience for Microsoft employees. “We wanted to find ways that agents could help our travelers even more, sometimes before they even knew they needed help,” says Eric Bailey, Travel Technology Manager at Microsoft. In the past, for example, if weather caused flight cancellations, travelers needed to figure out which of seven phone numbers to contact, based on their geographical location and time of day, and reach out for help. Microsoft Travel envisioned a different experience: agents would watch for cancellations, proactively rebook affected Microsoft travelers, and successfully contact them to alert them to the changes.
To facilitate that kind of responsiveness and interaction, American Express Global Business Travel established a team of worldwide Microsoft-dedicated agents who worked from home offices. “We realized that asking agents to work virtually would make our crisis management a lot more efficient because it would be so much easier for them to jump in and help when we had a spike in calls,” says Kathy Brennan, Global Service Delivery Leader at American Express Global Business Travel.
Certain capabilities were necessary for the two companies to achieve their shared vision. For example, the agents would need bandwidth and voice quality, secure network access, an automated way for Microsoft travelers to reach them, and effective means of reaching out to those travelers. “We determined that adjusting our service model and adopting advanced tools would not only benefit our customers, but also generate ancillary benefits, such as reducing costs and increasing flexibility,” says Brennan.
Together, American Express Global Business Travel and Microsoft embarked on a project to revolutionize the Microsoft traveler experience. They chose to use the latest release of Microsoft Lync to support an integrated “click-to-call” system that would provide the foundation of a new traveler-centric service model. “Using Lync has become such a part of doing business internally at Microsoft that we knew we could easily extend it into our relationship with American Express Global Business Travel,” says Bailey.
American Express Global Business Travel was attracted to the idea of using Lync functionality to make a difference in the lives of both its agents and its travel customers. The two companies worked with Clarity to deploy Clarity Connect, a full-featured contact center product that is native to Lync and adds automated attendant, call queuing, skills-based routing capabilities, and real-time monitoring and historical reporting functionality. Clarity then configured the product with new workflow paths that would maximize the benefits that Microsoft employees would realize by using Lync as the communication tool that they use to reach American Express Global Business Travel.