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Advances in AI Fix Common Customer Pain Points

Creating memorable digital interactions means providing an customers with effortless experiences.

In the hospitality industry, we often focus on creating memorable and amazing face-to-face customer experiences. But just as important are those interactions that take place via digital and voice channels. In these channels, it’s less about creating exceptional experiences and more about creating effortless experiences – the experiences where customers can meet their needs quickly and with as little effort as possible.

Unfortunately, these channels are often anything but effortless. Maybe it’s the interactive voice response (IVR) system that makes you listen to “required verbiage” and an endless array of options. It could be the chatbot that just doesn’t understand your question. It might be waiting on hold for a human associate. 

These types of customer experiences aren’t unique to the hospitality industry, but in a market where negative online reviews carry a lot of weight, these bad experiences can seriously damage your brand. The good news is that advancements in the accessibility of artificial intelligence (AI) mean there’s a lot you can do to make positive impacts in these channels. 

3 Areas of Customer Experience that AI Can Improve

By intelligently automating parts of the customer journey, you’ll naturally reduce costs while increasing employee and customer satisfaction. The key is automating intelligently, which really requires a strong foundation in CX (customer experience) principles as well as a deep understanding of the technology. The following are three smart places to make improvements:

1. Irritating IVR Systems

When guests call your customer service hotline, are they walked through an endless series of scenarios? If that’s the case, you have an irritating IVR. Traditional IVR systems follow a pre-determined sequence, so they can’t respond intelligently to customer requests. This leads to frustration with the IVR that causes customers to yell, “SPEAK WITH REPRESENTATIVE” into the phone!

The irony is that most customers want to self-serve and quickly resolve problems on their own. Unfortunately, because of design shortcomings, the IVR system often leads customers to want to speak with a person who might be able to resolve their problem.

With conversational AI, IVR systems can be much better. An AI-enabled IVR, or intelligent virtual agent, can more quickly and accurately help your customers resolve issues without human intervention. Conversational AI built with Natural Language Understanding (NLU), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and generative AI can interpret customer inquiries, even if they’re spoken in a conversational tone. And, AI-powered IVR systems can greatly simplify their menu of options. Instead of including a prompt for a laundry list of questions, the customer can state their problem and the IVR will give them the correct response or route them to an agent. Even better, some AI-powered IVR systems use advanced analytics to predict the question before the customer even asks it.

2. Frustrating Chatbots

Just like outdated IVR systems, chatbots can be incredibly frustrating. That’s because traditional bots are based on a set of rules. When a customer asks a question, the bot searches for the right rule, and responds with a scripted reply based on a set of known keywords – and that often leads to customer frustration.

The latest generation of chatbots, powered by conversational AI, aren’t limited by keywords or rules. Instead, they use data, machine learning (ML), NLU and NLP to recognize speech and text inputs. This helps the bots understand and interpret the subtleties of human language and engage in more natural and fluid conversations with customers.

Chatbots powered by conversational AI and ML can also identify common user issues and proactively provide solutions, resulting in a more helpful user experience. These chatbots can even “remember” past interactions and use that information to provide personalized recommendations and responses. 

3. Agent Burnout

By the time a guest reaches your customer service agent they’re often already frustrated. Being on the receiving end of these calls is stressful and compounding that is the fact that agents often have high call volumes and lack the tools they need to quickly solve problems. This leads to high burnout rates. 

While AI can’t completely eliminate agent stressors, it can help alleviate them by making workloads more manageable and giving agents the tools they need for success. If you use conversational AI to improve your IVR and chatbots, you’ll go a long way in reducing call volumes by making it easier for customers to problem-solve on their own. AI can also help you predict peak call times so that you can staff your contact center appropriately to meet high demand.

AI can also give agents the problem-solving tools they need with interactive knowledge centers that draw on knowledge bases, manuals, and FAQs to deliver answers to agents via tools in their contact center technology. In addition, automatic conversation summarization can replace a great deal of post-call work. 

Next Steps for AI in Your Customer Experience

Fixing or mitigating IVRs, chatbots, and agent burnout is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what AI can do for your customer service. You can automate many interactions, but you have to be smart about how you do it so that you never alienate your guests or inadvertently make it harder for them to interact with your brand. If you’d like to explore your readiness to use AI in your customer experience, take this 10-question readiness assessment to learn more. 

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