Service as a Retention Strategy
Lisa P. Oswald is senior vice president of customer service at Travelzoo and leads a global portfolio including customer and client services, product operations and voice of the customer programs in support of Travelzoo’s 28 million members across the globe. She has received numerous awards including Customer Service Executive of the Year by American Business Awards and Excellent Customer Service by British Travel Awards—twice! When she’s not working, she’s in the studio making art as a monotype artist. An she brings together her love of art and her community, serving as a commissioner of the arts in her hometown of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.
What unique customer care challenges do you face?
As the world’s leading publisher of travel and entertainment deals, Travelzoo makes vacation dreams come true for our more than 28 million members in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. We publish new offers every day from more than 2,000 travel, entertainment and local companies, so every time you visit our site, it’s a brand new experience.
This dynamic inventory is a challenge for our customer care team. How do you keep up in real time with new offers, new travel partners and new destinations? It can be next to impossible. So we rely on giving our team the tools and the context to accurately answer (or intuit the answer based on their familiarity with our products) a continual stream of one-off inquiries about our deals.
How do you blow off steam after a long day—or week?
I’m an artist, so spending time in my studio is the best way I know to unleash my creativity and refresh my spirit. For me, making art is like a leap of faith—I give myself over to the process and the process leads to its own result. That “letting go” is a state of bliss.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone starting in this career?
My favorite stories are those from my peers who started their career on the frontlines in a call center. I can’t think of a better training ground to develop a service ethos and become a better listener and empathetic thinker. Beyond that, stay on top of trends and technology, know what the best- and worst ranked service companies are doing (or not doing), consume as much content as you can—webinars, white papers, podcasts and blogs, and start networking early! The best answers to your toughest business problems are often only a phone call away.
Can you please share with us a preview of what you will be presenting at the SOCAP Symposium and why it’s important?
I’m running a workshop on how companies can effectively use voice of the customer insights to drive up customer satisfaction. We’ll look at how Travelzoo improved its CSAT with customer service from 81% to 90% in just 15 months, and how brands can achieve what I call the “Thank You Effect” through a collective series of small actions. At Travelzoo, service is a retention strategy, and we believe satisfaction drives loyalty.