Communication is Key

» Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Business Practices, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

With the invention of each new tool comes an additional problem.  When the eTravel systems were developed, they were meant to make things easier on all involved in the government travel process.  In most ways, they are successful.  The one area that is key to making the system work is keeping everyone informed (both internal staff and customers).  I’ve found through my experience that no matter how much you try, you can never give out too much information to the travelers.  If there are any problems with the system, it’s better to inform the traveler before they find it on their own.  If they’re trying to do something and come across the issue then they tend to get a little more worked up.  If they are aware of the problem before they run into it and already have a workaround or solution, everyone stays happier.

This isn’t just the case with problems in the system but also changes to the system.  Anytime an upgrade is done that is meant to enhance the user’s experience, they need to be made aware.  If they login the system to create a document and find something they aren’t used to, it causes problems.  Even if the experience is better it still causes undue stress on the traveler and in turn on the help desk.  If the change is something rather large, use the opportunity to provide additional training.  Most users may not take advantage but it will provide a greater level of comfort for those that do and shows that customer service is important to you.

Communication isn’t only key between the travel provider and the traveler but also within the travel service provider.  Anytime you work with systems or people there are going to be problems that arise.  Making sure everyone is aware of the issues currently being worked on is key to running a successful organization.  If there’s a system problem that one individual on the team is working on, they need to provide updates to the rest of the team so that if they encounter the same or a similar issue it can also be documented.  If there are system upgrades or changes, internal staff needs to be aware of the changes before they are made available to the customer.  This is especially true if they will be answering questions from others about the change.  Good documentation explaining why the change was made will only make it easier for them when answering questions and providing support.  Although it’s important to put a lot of focus on external customers when changing procedures or policies, if internal staff aren’t made aware it can cause great confusion once it is rolled out.

Keeping everyone informed of updates to internal procedures and processes is also important.  Even if someone isn’t currently working with a process it’s important to provide them with updated information or store it in a location that is accessible to anyone on the team.  Only having certain people with the knowledge needed for a specific task or process is a good recipe for disaster if something should happen and they’re out of the office for a while.  Everything needs t be documented so that if someone else picks up the procedures things can stay operational.  We have seen several cases in the news about fires, earthquakes, terrorist attacks and other natural disasters that have disrupted operations at businesses.  With a good communication plan the down time can be kept to a minimum and other individuals can step in and keep things running.

Whether it be people in your organization or external customers, keeping people informed is one of the keys to a successful operation.  Without the proper information, travel policies, procedures and regulations may not be followed.  Although the travelers should ensure that they are following all policies when making travel arrangements and claims for reimbursement, it’s up to the travel provider and agency to keep the traveler well informed when those policies change.  That can be done via email, updates on an intranet or internet site, within the system, paper communications or any other means that ensures everyone is well informed.

When everyone is well informed it not only keeps the organization running more smoothly but also creates a more pleasant environment.  The travelers will be happier knowing of system issues ahead of time rather than encountering them while trying to make travel arrangements.  This will give them an opportunity to use other methods if appropriate to bypass the issue.

By: Jason Caltrider

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