Earlier this year, it seemed the COVID-19 crisis was looking up as the number of cases began to drop and countries began reopening borders for summer travel. AAA Travel data shows that bookings increased at least 11% more than 2019 and droves of people planned to travel for Labor Day and the rest of 2021. However, the spread of the highly contagious Delta Variant has many travelers postponing vacations yet again, and many others are still wondering if they need to cancel their travel plans. This turmoil has already led to another huge spike in inquiries and contact center traffic for airlines and hotels are applying extra pressure on agents who are already spread thin.
Despite these challenges, it’s critical for airlines and hotels to prioritize customer satisfaction, or else they risk losing customers to competitors. More than half (54%) of consumers report at least one negative customer experience (CX) each month. Often, these negative experiences lead customers to switch to using competing products and services to avoid dealing with the same issue again.
Given consumers’ high expectations, along with a spiked volume of call and chatbot requests, it will be challenging for airlines and hotels to keep up with the thousands of reservation changes and customer service inquiries. However, this does not mean that CX should suffer due to overwhelmed contact centers. Below are three steps that airlines and hotels can take to automate CX processes and ensure their CX technology is operating smoothly ahead of the travel surge.
1) Use Omnichannel to Disperse Traffic
Today, 56% of people prefer to contact a brand via messaging apps or online chat rather than by phone. So, it’s critical to offer customers an omnichannel approach to customer experience, where they can choose which channel is the most convenient. Self-service channels are ideal for providing customers with immediate answers to frequent questions.
By offering customers self-service channels, such as automated phone responses and chatbots to help with routine inquiries, airlines and hotels can preserve customer service agents for more complex customer queries that require personal attention. For example, one best practice is to leverage chatbots or phone keypad options to first to screen inquiries and route customers who need further assistance to the right agent so they can get the most appropriate support. This can present overloading the organization’s call centers because chatbots, in addition to social media and email queries, can shift customer support traffic away from live phone conversations and free up agents time for tasks that require more skill or human interaction.
2) Prioritize Testing Every Communication Platform
Poor voice quality and other technical issues impact many of the key metrics used to measure the success of contact centers and ultimately, can negatively impact the organization’s bottom line. These issues can start even before your customers reach an agent.
For example, poor voice quality in the interactive voice response (IVR) phone system can cause additional issues with speech recognition and not being able to reach the proper line for help with their specific issue. This leads frustrated callers to drop out of the IVR and request a live person instead. When that happens, the caller can easily get routed to the wrong department, which will then require another transfer that will take more time and add to the customer’s irritation.
Additionally, if chatbots or emails aren’t going through to the company, customers will get annoyed if they do not receive a timely response. Customers will then try to call the contact center for assistance, causing even more call traffic. Due to these reasons, it is so critical for airlines and hotels to test all their CX experience channels and catch any technical glitches before the customers experience it firsthand. To test every channel without spending hours and days of labor, you will need an automated testing platform that also continuously monitors CX channels in case new technical issues occur in the future.
3) Automate CX Monitoring
Sometimes CX issues are not noticeable on a single call, but when a minor hiccup is measured across millions of customer journeys, the impact is quite large. So, in addition to proactive testing, airlines and hotels need to be constantly monitoring for new issues to arise and fixing them in real-time.
Regardless of the technology was tested beforehand, defects can always creep into CX production or materialize somewhere in the customer journey. CX monitoring helps teams to quickly identify those before it becomes a “death by a thousand cuts” situation for the brand. CX a monitoring system is crucial because it can detect glitches and technical issues that a human wouldn’t necessarily notice, such as latency in responses over the phone. Fast alerts are critical in these situations to give your IT team and customer support teams time to respond to the problem before it negatively affects thousands of customers.
Deploying automated tools for this is key for organizations to always track all these interactions. Automation also helps with managing business-to-consumer (B2B) communications and ensures nothing falls through the cracks. For example, companies should have a system in place where as soon as a customer email is received, a workflow is created automatically so it can be routed to the appropriate department and tracked until a resolution is reached. In addition, automation technology allows companies to closely monitor business processes and collect data to fine-tune workflows moving forward and further improve CX.