Finnair's customer service is here to help along the way
The past two years have been challenging for air travel and Finnair's customer service has been under a lot of pressure with constant changes and cancellation. Even in the middle of uncertainty Finnair's customer service team members want to help you every step of your way, wherever you are – and always with a smile.
The world of travel got turned upside down with the Covid-19 pandemic. This has had a big impact on Finnair's customer service; changing the issues you as customers approach us with, the amount of knowledge and understanding needed by our team members, and the resources required to help everyone as quickly as possible.
The sudden changes have unfortunately also created sudden peaks in customer contacts and heavy congestion in our service. This situation is now being tackled as we onboard new customer service agents and develop our online service channels further.
Finnair's policy across this challenging time has been to help customers as well as possible, even with issues that are not directly associated with the airline, such as travel documents. The flexibility to change bookings has been a crucial part of this policy.
- Especially in the beginning the customers were very glad to be able to reach us and rebook or cancel their flights easily, says Saara, Customer Service Agent and Trainer at Finnair's Home Hub.
Even in regular times the scope of Finnair's customer service is vast. You can reach the service globally, around the clock, in thirteen languages, and various channels. The teams not only help direct customers but also other customer groups, such as travel agents and partner airlines.
Team Manager at Finnair's Europe Hub Maria points out that the requirements to work for airline customer service are very different to other customer care positions.
- Work here is challenging but beautiful. Every call we receive is different so working days are very dynamic. For the customer, the journey they are taking could be the most important of their life. It is up to us to make it flawless.
Long training to ensure best possible service
Aviation is a very specific area of expertise and customer needs vary greatly. Customer service agents must master a wide variety of themes: from pricing to making bookings, policies at the airport to website features. This makes the training process of new agents long and thorough. It takes about six weeks before a new agent handles even the simplest of calls.
- Usually, it takes up to six months before an agent can work independently without the help of experienced colleagues. Even after that there are upskilling programs. Though we have now recruited more people, it will take some time until they are ready to help customers, Saara describes.
Both Saara and Maria point out that the first calls the agent receives can be quite stressful as every new team member wants to do their best.
- After the first training period the agents are enthusiastic to get started but also have a sense of very big responsibility, Maria says.
Online services can't replace human contact
Finnair is constantly improving self-service and online products, despite this person-to-person service will always remain important for us.
- When a customer makes the call, they expect a solution there and then. We try to make sure we handle everything within the same call. After the initial issue is cleared, we always map out if the customer might need something more, such as travel extras, Saara describes.
Maria adds that it is essential that the customer feels heard, unique, and taken care of.
- We greet warmly, listen carefully and always explain the reasoning behind the solution we offer. The sweetest part of this work is when we manage to turn a frustrated customer into a happy one, she says.
Back to normal?
The customer service agents at Finnair also receive trickier calls that are outside their expertise. The common misconceptions are that customer service can help in issues related to the airport, travel agents, or other airlines. Even in these situations the customer service agents try to find a solution.
- We can give guidance, but with issues such as travel documents we advise people to contact the correct authority. Sometimes we might also get questions about the weather in Finland or what people like to do there. We of course have a sense of humour about this too, Maria laughs.
All team members share a wish to return to normal life. Saara says that even now it is a cause for celebration when a working day is not filled with Corona related issues. Maria is hopeful that lives on both ends of customer support are soon more joyful.
- Finnair is taking responsibility as a company with new agents starting. Everything might still feel a bit complicated, but we believe this situation is cleared soon. We are also very happy that people continue to travel. We are there to help along the way, she sums up.