The travel industry is overwhelmed. As the coronavirus continues spreading around the globe, thousands of customers are calling hotels and airlines to cancel or change plans based on highly variable and unpredictable changes – and as a result, millions of travel-related jobs will be lost.
With an industry so dependent on reviews and word of mouth recommendations, customer service and experiences are the foundation of the travel industries.
Yet, we’re facing unprecedented times, and every customer is different. Each individual is having to make dramatic, sometimes emotional decisions about their plans for the year.
So, those in the industry must ask: How do you efficiently and effectively deliver more human experiences, especially during increasingly serious and stressful times?
As the CEO of Uniphore, I absolutely know that implementing the right technology is the answer – even if technology seems counterintuitive when trying to build human experiences.
Here are three ways you can weave technology into your service strategy to ensure every single customer has the best experience possible during this pandemic – and that your enterprise is saving money:
Many hospitality businesses – especially hotels and restaurants – are sitting on stockpiles of customer data. Records of everything from reservations to supply inventory to years-old satisfaction surveys can tell you about customer needs. More importantly, they can tell you where you are falling short.
By leveraging AI and machine learning, companies can sift through data and extract trends to find improvement areas, identify blind spots and make a course correction on the most common customer complaints.
For example, posing the most common discoveries as FAQs at the time of a hotel booking can better inform customers while providing better customer service.
Businesses can also use customer data to build FAQ pages on their website for customers who may not have the time to call and sort through the nitty-gritty details.
This means you’ll be able to meet customers where they’re at while saving them time and energy. Businesses can also use data to improve agent performance during the deluge of cancelations and changes and foster career growth. It’s a no brainer.
It can be surprisingly difficult to get to the root of a customer’s service problem – especially if the customer doesn’t actually know what it is or can’t describe it to representatives over the phone.
With voice-enabled AI solutions, businesses can better understand the nuances of each customer interaction by identifying the true intent of each call through the real-time analysis of emotions and stated needs versus implicit needs.
So, as a person speaks and describes their issue, digital agents behind the scenes parse through their words and tone to determine the best recommendation in the quickest possible way.
Voice AI can also analyze recorded phone calls and use automated agents to pull from previous and real-time customer data. These technology-enabled assistants will likely be able to help companies spot underlying questions before a customer can even articulate their needs themselves.
As a result, your agents will become mind readers, answering customer questions before they are left with a non-refundable flight or excursion to deal with.
In the end, your employees are your best customer experience ambassadors – even those who are not in traditional customer service or customer-facing roles.
For example, technology can reduce time-consuming, redundant tasks, such as changing a check-out date, and free up employees’ time to help with more complicated inquiries, like personalized recommendations or activities.
Your employees will feel more empowered and be able to relate to each customer in a real human way – and customers will see agents as truly helping them solve issues.
I like to paint this picture: I imagine a call center where agents don’t have to use a keyboard or a mouse. They can actually listen to the customer while technology takes care of all the paperwork.
Think how much better customer service would be if employees actually listened – and imagine how much more fulfilled customer service agents would be. It’s a win-win for all parties.
This will also lead to severe cost savings. Because automation helps call centers and agents be more efficient, call handling times drop, leading to cost savings for the enterprise.
AI and automation also save time and allow agents to take on more calls as a result. During peak travel season, call centers won’t need to hire and train seasonal agents to handle the influx of calls – automation’s boost in efficiency will take care of the increase.
Implementing the right voice-enabled software can be daunting. But those in senior customer service roles – who may no longer actually be dealing with customers on a daily basis themselves – should use AI to mentor and coach representatives.
In using AI, managers can monitor customer service performance and provide key metrics to help agents improve, ultimately enhancing the overall experience for each individual customer.
The better you’re able to understand your customers, predict their needs and effectively solve their problems, the more willing your customers will be to write a positive review after they change or cancel their plans.
In a world where one viral comment can make or break your business’s reputation, having an AI- and data-infused customer experience strategy is critical.
Umesh Sachdev, Co-founder, and CEO of Uniphore, is a modern-day entrepreneur with a passion for technologies that have massive societal impact. He co-founded Uniphore with Ravi Saraogi to bridge the communication gap between man and machine using voice and speech. Umesh was globally recognized in 2016 as one of the ten ‘Next Generation Leaders’ by Time Magazine. He has been conferred with the title of ‘Innovative Entrepreneur’ by the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Technopreneur Promotion Programme (TePP).
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