When making travel arrangements, speed, accuracy and reliability really count. Allowing travelers to easily compare the cheapest flights, hotels and car rentals, and then purchase these items directly through the same Website for free has enabled Skyscanner’s 2015 revenues to reach £120 million ($183 million), up 28 percent over the prior year.
Skyscanner helps more than 50 million visitors each month via its Websites and apps, which are available in 30 languages and 70 currencies. Users can find and purchase travel services directly with an airline, online travel agent or rental car company.
In this constant availability customer service business, the company’s Websites must run at peak performance 24/7/365. Just a few seconds of downtime can mean a massive loss of revenue.
Due to Skyscanner’s rapid growth and its focus on productivity aids, testing and innovation, disparate tools rolled out naturally across the company. To deliver the maximum benefits to its local travel customers and 1,200 partners, the global company needed to streamline its business service tools to improve data tracking, reporting and collaboration among its employees.
When faced with these challenges, Skyscanner decided to restructure in a way that would help it grow and adapt to market changes more quickly, as well as to standardize on business software to improve user satisfaction, tracking, reporting and collaboration across all functions.
About 18 months ago, the company began rolling out a “tribe and squad” organizational model with a comprehensive education program and tools that are best suited to each four-to-eight-person team. Each squad functions as a mini start-up, with its own mission and the ability to scale very quickly.
“We are obsessed with data, and with inspecting our processes and tools to understand our business operational metrics and how to improve our performance,” explains Laura Haines, the Americas Skyscanner product and operations leader. “We felt that with common business tools and small, independent cross-functional teams, we could deliver new products more quickly and effectively.”
Software Increases Sales, Efficiency and Collaboration
The engineering department adopted JIRA Services to replace emails, chat windows and conversations to optimize its processes and communications during a pilot. Since it was so effective, the JIRA Service Desk was then rolled out across all functions so they could get data and reporting from a single, more user-friendly tool, fix bugs faster and serve customers better.
Through the squad structure, processes and the JIRA Service Desk ticketing and knowledge database, collaboration doubled between developers and IT professionals. There was a 236 percent increase in Skyscanner tickets, with a 50 percent increase in tickets per person, per month during a three-month period. Adding to the bottom line, they experienced 44 percent greater efficiency in IT tickets.
The squad model has provided autonomy and reduced dependencies on others. For example, unless they’re building a common feature, product development squads can release their software independently every day, without having to coordinate with other teams. This model allows Skyscanner to regularly release updates and features that drive conversions.
And this approach is not limited to developers. A marketing squad created a very popular visa tool exclusively for the Russian site to show which countries require a visa for Russian travelers. Meanwhile, another squad worked on recruitment, learning, IT services and office logistics for its local office.
“By adopting the JIRA Service Desk solution, we gained a full service desk support capability,” Haines reports, “along with knowledge management and the collaboration that the platform provided across the organization. That reduced the number of communication channels we use, consolidating information data, as well as making conversations available to everyone.”