Pana is the first corporate travel platform exclusively for world-class guest trips, including on-site interviews, customer visits, internships, and more. And their travel agents are known among their users for providing stellar—and super fast—customer service. Their agents help users through every step of the travel lifecycle, from researching and booking hotels and flights, to dealing with delays, to recommending coffee shops or a spot for dinner after they arrive at their destination. Their communication platform is omni-channel, meaning users can reach their agent through either their iPhone app, their web app, SMS, or email, making it a much more modern experience than using a typical corporate travel agency.
There is a lot on these agents' plates, especially as they scale and are snagging some huge customers, but they are able to maintain their exceptional customer service largely because of the travel dashboard built by the Pana product team. Agents live in this dashboard—this is where they chat with users, research flight fares, book hotels—you name it. It's an extremely robust tool, and because the agents can accomplish the majority of their day-to-day from inside this dashboard, they are much more efficient than your typical travel agent. But on the flip side, because the agent application is so feature-rich, it is also very complex.
As the company began growing rapidly over the last year, agents were feeling some growing pains with the app. It was buggy because it was cobbled together on a spider web of technologies, and it was hard to use because it was built way too quickly without usability in mind every step of the way (as almost always happens in startups that are moving crazy fast).
I worked with Pana's product team to refactor the front-end of the agent application, redesign the UI for their recent re-brand, and do a big UX overhaul. This project was unique in that we had a very direct line to user feedback about the app—Pana has around 12-15 travel agents, so it was very simple to get feedback from 100% of them. Super cool!
One of the most important things for a Pana agent is to be able to message with a user while doing something else for them, like researching flight options. Pana guarantees under 5-minute response times, so it's crucial that an agent have access to the chat thread at nearly all times. The old Pana agent app did this by splitting the chat view into multiple panels, one with a chat thread, and others for interacting with the database of flights and hotels to search and book. It worked, but it was clunky and hard to use, so we cleaned it up. Here is the updated chat view that a Pana travel agent sees when working with a user:
As you can see, it's very robust, so we put in a ton of work around cleaning up the UI, eliminating functionality that wasn't being used, rearranging the hierarchy of the view, and using clearer calls to action.
Another piece that is critical for agent efficiency is understand which users need to be responded to first. Pana's dev team built out an impressive algorithm that ranks tasks (things like "Research flights for Kerry" and "Review booking for Susan") in order of urgency, and I worked to make that prioritization clear within the app to drive productivity. Here is a view of the task list:
This was one of the more robust, feature-dense applications that I have worked on in my career, and I learned a ton throughout the process. The revamped app launched in July of 2017, and so far, the agents are loving it.