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05/18/2021

3 Ways to Prepare Your CX Team for Vaxication Season

With customer support requests at an all-time high, hospitality providers need to revisit their customer support capabilities to prep for the impending surge of vacationers.
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Grab your sunblock and wide-brimmed hats! People across the country are starting to schedule their summer vacations to visit family and friends after President Biden’s target of July 4 for a new kind of ‘Independence Day.’ And who can blame them? It’s the summer of vaxications as Americans get vaccinated against the coronavirus and venture out for the first time in more than a year.

According to new market research, almost 87% of American travelers have travel plans in place within the next six months (the highest since March 2020), and additional data shows that 59% plan to take a trip as soon as spring 2021. With the surge of travel to come, and recent research showing that customer support requests are at an all-time high since the start of the pandemic, travel and hospitality providers need to revisit their customer support capabilities to prep for the impending surge of vacationers. Here are a few ways they can equip their support teams to manage the influx of customer requests.

Requesting Extra Towels and PPE: Make the Most of Messaging

If there’s one thing customers want, it’s fast service. Whether it’s requesting extra towels or trying to find a lost item, one way that the industry can better address customers’ needs quickly is through messaging. In fact, support requests sent over messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger soared 110% year-over-year during the pandemic. Using social media channels or a customized mobile app for messaging can help the industry create continuous engagement throughout the customer journey, and enable better customer experiences.

There are a few ways messaging can be used before travelers ever step foot on a property. For example, a hotel can leverage messaging to provide a list of Covid testing sites, restaurants with outdoor seating, and even where to find additional personal protective equipment (PPE). It’s also useful for guests should they need to communicate last-minute cancellations. Following the visit, hotels can leverage messaging channels to proactively engage with customers about future deals and follow up for feedback on their stay.

One company that’s mastered the art of messaging is Four Seasons Hotels, which uses a global messaging solution to connect customers with employees at their properties around the world. Guests can reach out in the language of their choice and on their preferred channel to book spa appointments, get dining recommendations and more, creating rich, interactive conversational experiences.

Leave the Light On: Get More Visibility with Data & Collaboration

Investing in collaboration tools can help support teams get the full, 360-degree view of the customer, with the necessary context needed to respond to requests fast. As a first step, companies should consider adding an automated chatbot to help gather customer basics like a name and reason for reaching out, direct customers to self-help pages, and -- if the question is too complex -- send details to the appropriate support agent to resolve quickly. The best part? That data can be used again, providing insights from past interactions to lead to better experiences the next time someone reaches out.

We know that support teams might not all be in one place-- collaboration software can help support teams resolve issues fast, no matter where they are. Whether it’s a call, email or direct message, investing in a tool or dashboard to capture details in one place not only saves the customer from re-entering information again, but provides staff full visibility into past stays, prior concerns and preferences so they never have to go digging again. An added benefit? Global support teams can be proactive with new offers based on that data, and feel supported knowing that they have the best tools, information and insights behind them to create more fulfilling work experiences.  A happy team leads to happier customers.

Keep in Touch: Double Down on Personalized Experiences

One bad experience at a hotel can last a lifetime. According to research, 50% of customers will switch to the competition after a single bad experience, which is why it’s in any company’s best interest to get it right the first time.

To create personalized experiences that keep customers coming back, it’s important to engage with them over their preferred channels and customize their experiences. For example, reaching out in the customer’s preferred language shows a company is paying attention to preferences. Alternatively, offering a past guest who has historically used the fitness facilities a list of outdoor workouts in the area provides the kind of proactive, personal touches that build loyalty. Leveraging the right technology can help the industry get more personal with customers based on past preferences with tailored offers that ultimately lead to richer customer experience and long-term results for the business.

Research shows that more than 75% of customers are more loyal to companies that offer good customer experiences when an issue arises. As America inches closer to summer travel, these tips can help ensure better experiences for customers long before they arrive, provide industry leaders with competitive differences for future travel seasons, and help turn one good experience into a long-term relationship.