About six weeks ago, I wrote about a whole list of things that the Vistara management needs to fix in case it wants to bring back the Vistara experience in the coming days. Apart from moving the needle on adding non-vegetarian meals to economy class, which was more a move in line with Air India, Vistara has not moved much on any of the suggested initiatives. Maybe they will or not; I don’t know.
One of the many suggestions I had for the airline was to focus on their IT initiatives, which have died away recently. Unfortunately, the IT issues prompt the airline to falter on other customer service initiatives. For instance, a week ago, I had Vistara hang up on the phone on me a tonne of times before an appeal on Twitter made them call me back.
— Ajay Awtaney (@LiveFromALounge) January 30, 2022
Unfortunately, my ticketing emergency happened on a day when Vistara decided to cancel a tonne of flights, and I was told the Vistara call centre was under tremendous stress because people were not provided with replacement flights after their flights were cancelled. Eventually, my ticketing issue could have been fixed online had Vistara worked on adequate IT solutions. Here are five things Vistara should fix quickly if they want to provide a modicum of customer service.
1. Make a Native app for vital mobile platforms
The app is the first port of call for an airline in today’s day and time. Those who travel either depend on their (human) assistants/ travel desks or on their phones to keep in touch with the world or their flight status and rebooking requirements. Unfortunately, Vistara’s app does not pass the muster on these requirements. The ratings indicate that.
Since someone wrote it better in the app’s reviews section, I would just let them do the talking.
It is no secret that Vistara has a largely inadequate app for the requirements of their customers and is not the best in class. A quick look at their rating on the App Store or the Google Play Store should tell you why. Here are the ratings of Indian airline’s apps on the Apple App Store:
- IndiGo 4.7 Stars with 22000 Ratings
- Air India 4.7 Stars with 44000 Ratings
- SpiceJet 4.4 Stars with 6600 Ratings
- Vistara 3.0 Stars with 390 Ratings
- AirAsia India 2.4 Stars with 35 Ratings
- Go First 1.8 Stars with 490 Ratings
And here are the ratings on the Google Play Store:
- IndiGo 4.5 Stars with 191210 Ratings
- Air India 3.9 Stars with 32065 Ratings
- Vistara 3.5 Stars with 8181 Ratings
- SpiceJet 3.2 Stars with 34601 Ratings
- AirAsia India 3.0 Stars with 338 Ratings
- Go First 2.6 Stars with 11719 Ratings
While IndiGo has prioritised digital innovation and has brought in a new person to lead Digital Efforts at the airline, Vistara has gone in the opposite direction, it seems. For instance, their app on the iPhone can’t even produce the Apple wallet passes for boarding passes, which show up automatically 3-4 hours before the flight or start showing up when you show up at the airport. These are all essential hygiene factors for any app, I believe. And the fact that they are lower than SpiceJet, an airline in shambles, should say something about the quality of Vistara’s digital efforts.
Vistara’s app is the website in the shape of an app. So, everything will go back to the website and fetch data again and again. And it breaks a lot in the whole process. Secondly, basics are not available as a capability on the app. You cannot redeem CV Points, for instance.
In July 2021, the Vistara CIO promised a better app… we are still waiting. Here is an excerpt from the Analytics India Magazine where he claimed Vistara was born in the cloud. Big Words, Small Actions.
Customer facing technologies: Mobile is very powerful in the aviation industry. People want to book their tickets on the go, accrue points immediately, and they wish to have the same experience on mobile as in the web-based apps. Therefore, a lot of upgrades are happening on the mobile applications, including in Vistara’s. We are embarking on a very big omni-channel digital strategy.
2. Session Time Outs
For a seven-year-old company, this is at least a four or five-year-old problem, if not longer. If you are a Club Vistara member, you can log into your account and choose to stay logged in. That way, you don’t have to put your password in again and again to access your itineraries.
But… after a certain period of inaction, the Vistara website will throw you out. However, it will still keep your name flashing on the top right corner as if you are logged in. And then… you will get this in the middle of whatever ticket you are trying to book or query the system for.
And then, the Customer goes back, does a log-out from CV, and then can resume business. This is the smallest of things, but for whatever reason, it continues as of February 2022 at Vistara. It proves they are not interested in the details and don’t want to solve for customer feedback to get better.
3. Club Vistara
Remember how Vistara rolled out a new system one fine night without ever announcing downtime to their customers? It took them weeks to come back to some level of semblance and performance equal to the pre-switchover phase. Vistara went ahead and switched their Loyalty Management System but did not as much as give their customers a shout to complete their tasks before the airline went under for a while. That leads to moments like this.
Step 1: Perform an unannounced and unscheduled upgrade to your online portal that locks out your users for days making it impossible for them to log in and access their accounts. I personally am stuck here, this page is supposed to proceed for me to enter my OTP. But Nope, Nada. pic.twitter.com/3URkT39pbd
— Jay (@thetrickytrade) December 14, 2021
Step 4: Make sure that the customer is unable to get their job done by blocking access to their information on all other channels that are available. In my case, I wanted to book a ticket using one of the multiple vouchers I have available. Since the website wasn't working…
— Jay (@thetrickytrade) December 14, 2021
Of course, Vistara did not deem it fit to reach out to affected customers and offer them compensation for all the errors caused at Vistara’s end. It has been six weeks since this IT Meltdown, and Vistara has not even publicly acknowledged that it ever happened.
4. Fix the errors coming up every day?
I’m not sure how many of you have flown Vistara recently and noticed errors in your bookings with the airline. The airline will randomly put on your ticket “Booking Might Be Disrupted, Flight Suggested to Change”.
Here are just three people wondering what happened to their tickets? And obviously not getting any responses from the airline.
Hi @airvistara , I can see message Flight suggested to be changed for@my PNR .. I have connecting flight to Frankfurt .. what does it mean ? I could not reach vistara customer care .. and my travel is urgent and so close .. what’s this ?? #badservice
— Saroj (@sarojkumarD) January 31, 2022
@airvistara Team, i have a booking from Mumbai to Delhi (UK 902) on 18th February, 2022. The vistara website shows "Booking might be disrupted, Flight suggested to change".
Can you please tell me what does this mean??
— Comeback Reds (@ComebackReds) January 28, 2022
@airvistara Hello,I have a confirmed flight on 27th Jan Fra-Del-Hyd. But on vistara website it says flight might be disrupted. What does this mean? Please clarify.
— Ayesha siddiqua (@annadawson99) January 22, 2022
A week ago, I got this heads up from Vistara, as I went over to the website to check-in for my Hyderabad – Delhi Flight. The reality is this is an error on the part of the airline they refuse to fix, which is adding scores to call on their customer care line without having any answers.
Oh, and if, for whatever reason, you take them up on the rescheduling option, it will lead you to a dead end. Then back to the phone calls.
5. Invest in Self Service Options
For an airline that has been voted as India’s best by many awards and polls, Vistara still lacks a simpleservice option for customer self-. At IndiGo, there is Plan B, wherein in case of changes and cancellations, you can rebook yourselves. Even SpiceJet launched this feature this past year. But no trace of a self-service option at Vistara so far. That means you have to Tweet/DM them or call them and spend a copious amount of time getting issues sorted because the call centre is no longer equipped for the loads.
Eventually, Technology is one big part of running an airline now. For a no-frills airline, the load of expectations is low because they are expected to only bring you and your bags from point A to B. But, for a full-service airline, the entire customer journey is looked at with a fine-tooth comb, and you risk losing a customer when you put them off at any stage of the journey. Vistara needs to hire some people right out of the startups of the day and have them in charge of solving the UI/UX problems and the IT integrations that are not working for the airline for months now.
What do you think is wrong with Vistara, and what is still working fine? Tell us in the comments.
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