Travel; Hospitality


London, UK

  • Freshdesk

  • Freshchat

  • (Freshcaller (now Freshdesk Contact Center))

  • Scattered support team

  • No visibility into customer context

  • No data to identify revenue-generating opportunities

CSAT rating


Average no. of interactions per day


Rise in CSAT after deployment


Big Bus Tours - Curated Sightseeing Experiences

Big Bus Tours is the largest open-top sightseeing service in the world, sprawling across 23 cities and 4 continents. Their iconic burgundy-colored bus is a familiar sight especially in London, where it all began. Big Bus Tours’ sightseeing packages are renowned for offering a heady cocktail of educational, memorable, and culturally enriching experiences in every city they operate in.

We spoke to Simon Johnson, VP of Customer Experience for Big Bus Tours, to understand how they scaled their support set-up to translate their revered travel experiences to customer service as well.

7 million customers a year

Big Bus Tours caters to over 7 million customers per year. But until 2 years back, they used to manage their soaring query volumes with a scattered support team working out of a shared inbox; this allowed for little to no customer context. Their support agents at the time still managed to handle these conversations diligently--however, it was going to be a strain in the long run with Big Bus Tours making huge strides in their popularity. “What we wanted to do is take all 23 separate in-city customer service functions and centralize them and create a customer service excellence center,” Simon explained.

There was also a disconnect between team collaboration and customer service since the data was too siloed to offer a unified experience both to the support team and customers.

The need for a centralized support hub

Big Bus Tours was missing out on measuring customer satisfaction with email as the primary support channel. Team collaboration wasn’t going to remain meaningful without unifying and aligning support with customer insights. “We need to give customers the opportunity to speak with us through any channel that they choose, including social media and through any device”, Simon said. 

So, the challenge was not just to add more support channels but to unify customer data and add workflows to manage query volume without overwhelming the support agents.

Deploying Freshdesk Omnichannel

Big Bus Tours moved to a centralized support hub without losing any valuable time in migration using Freshdesk Omnichannel. The move ensured complete visibility into customer data for the agents and offered a hassle-free mobile-first support experience to customers. All support channels, including social media, were brought to a single-view by going completely omnichannel with Freshdesk.

Freshchat was perhaps the biggest win for Big Bus Tours as it became the preferred channel of support for customers. A bot-led workflow was integrated within Freshchat to gather customer information before routing the conversation to an agent. 

"We’re using bots on Freshchat to collect those little bits of customer information. So when that chat is handed off to an advisor, they've got everything they need to know and don't have to ask the customer again." Simon explained. The wait time before an agent joins the chat was made meaningful as customers were engaged with a form to convey what they’re looking for. Customers’ intent became all the more discernible with contextual visibility on their preferences, feedback, and CSAT scores.

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Simon gives Freshchat’s IntelliAssign a special mention for its automation capabilities to unburden support. IntelliAssign’s smart routing mechanism helped assign customer queries to the right support agent based on the nature of the problem, agent availability, time zones, agent expertise, customer’s preferred language, to name a few.

“With IntelliAssign, we can make sure that no advisor is overloaded. They're really appreciative of that because we don't want advisor burnout. We want them to be able to give time and attention to each and every customer.”

Simon Johnson

VP of Customer Experience

Big Bus Tours

(Freshcaller (now Freshdesk Contact Center)) becomes a bridge between field and support teams

With (Freshcaller (now Freshdesk Contact Center)), Big Bus Tours has been able to set up local phone lines instantly. While (Freshcaller (now Freshdesk Contact Center)) was initially added with the goal of giving customers from North America their favorite way to communicate, a la phone support, Big Bus Tours carved an interesting use case out of it. 

The field operators of Big Bus Tours started utilizing the phone lines to appraise support agents of incidents, give vital tour updates on the fly. “Our own street teams call into customer services with a dedicated line that they can call the city team. So if we need to urgently set up an emergency number, for instance, we can do that in seconds. We've been able to react very quickly.” Simon said.

Phone support has now ramped up into a revenue-generating channel as Big Bus Tours has assigned the right agents to offer consultative support (and sales) to onboard customers who may seek that human touch.

Simplifying cross-functional collaboration

Big Bus Tours has used Freshdesk’s team collaboration tool, Freshconnect, to solve one of their biggest internal problems - cross-functional collaboration. Being in the business of travel, Big Bus Tours has to establish clear-cut communication with external stakeholders like travel advisors and partners. Exchanging requirements without customer data used to be a deterrent to providing a seamless customer experience.

But with the Freshconnect integration, Big Bus Tours has cracked the secret sauce to context-rich communication, as support teams and partners can communicate within a ticket, add relevant teams to the discussion, assign tasks, and so on--all from within Freshdesk Omnichannel.

In Simon's own words, “Freshconnect is really a great way for even the advisors to get in touch with me to ask any questions about what's going on in the city or if they have something they want me to look at. It has helped me stay connected with my team and customers.” 

Leveraging analytics from Freshchat to go beyond the scope of support

The support interactions that customers have on Freshchat have been a goldmine for Big Bus Tours, according to Simon. They’ve been able to drill down the important pieces of information from analytics to set up better operating procedures in instances like escalations, refund requests, and other ticket trends. Freshchat has also been a medium of business resourcefulness as Big Bus Tours leverages customer data from interactions and bot inputs to identify revenue opportunities.

The exciting road ahead for Big Bus Tours

There's always going to be people on the street, there's always going to be buses. But I think technology is going to be at the heart of most of our customer journey.

Simon has big plans for Big Bus Tours and its customers. He revealed how a good part of the future will stress on leveraging bots not just to serve customers, but also to make a sale. Big Bus Tours will bet big on complete digital transformation, which will nudge customers to find everything in their mobile app. They are also exploring the potential of AR and VR in enhancing customer experience to help suggest curated travel and sightseeing choices.