What do you think of when you think of first class? A glass of champagne? A hot hand towel? A flight attendant rushing to your assistance at the push of a button? As traveling becomes more mainstream, these amenities may seem like a distant dream. Instead, we are faced with the reality of overbooked flights, long wait times, and crowded airports. It’s no wonder that airlines seem to get drowned in complaints on social media. It’s a service industry that simply can’t always provide good service.
But as we look at the customer experience as a whole in the travel industry, big improvements can be made to make customers feel more valued, respected, and happy. In other words, by providing a way for customer issues to be heard and solved efficiently, customers may be able to overlook issues that are not able to be controlled. For example, if severe weather causes a flight to be cancelled, but an IVA is able to reschedule that customer’s flight with no hassle, then the customer will still walk away feeling like there was a good customer experience.
Implementing a Conversational AI application, such as an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA), can help you create the best possible customer experience around what can be controlled, and help pick up the slack around what cannot be controlled. So while that first-class champagne may still be out of reach, customers can still feel valued and appreciated with quick, productive, and effortless service possibilities.
Here are three ways that an IVA can help deliver first-class service to your customers.
First-Class Service, Every time, Even in a crisis
Consistency is key. It’s not about providing an incredible experience only when it’s easy, but even when it’s difficult. That’s where an IVA can be a big help. Unlike live agents, an IVA will never get overwhelmed or frustrated when call volumes are through the roof. They are consistently friendly, productive, and follow the business rules every time.
With so many options in the travel and hospitality industry available for customers, consistent first-class service will be a vital differentiator to help companies stand out against the competition. Features such as 24/7 availability to rebook or cancel travel plans and no wait times when a customer calls are two simple ways to make a customer feel valued.
Unexpected changes to plans are a travelers worst nightmare, but if they can be handled with quick, effortless service, it can still be a win. It’s also important to consider features such as 24/7 availability re-book or cancel flights so that customers feel they can be helped at any hour of the day.
Tailor Preferences and Personalization
While we can’t expect flight attendants to know us by name as they serve us soft drinks down the aisle, an IVA can provide personalized experience every time. Because of its seamless integration is existing business systems, an IVA can identify the caller, actively or passively, and personalize the conversation based on customer context. For example, if a customer calls who has recently booked a flight, the IVA can recognize the purchase by the phone number calling and start the conversation with “Are you calling about your recent booking?” This not only saves time and effort for the customer (they won’t have to go searching for their confirmation number), but it also creates a first-class experience because the customer feels known.
The IVA can also personalize offers or upgrades based on past bookings, integrate with loyalty programs, and even make destination suggestions. The goal of many live representatives is to help customers as fast as possible, so that they can help more customers. But with an IVA, an unlimited volume of calls can be handled at once so there is no rush to finish a transaction. That means the IVA can spend more time with the customer to promote these relevant offers, which not only makes a customer feel valued, but can also increase revenue and sales.
Quick and Quality Conversations
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of an IVA is speed. Because there are no wait times, customers can be answered right away. But when thinking about a true first-class experience, it’s also important to consider the speed at which the entire transaction can be completed. With most automated systems, like IVRs, the call is answered without a wait, but the customer may still have a frustrating experience trying to communicate with the IVR which wastes a lot of time and effort. It’s like being able to board the plane first, but then having awful service during the flight. WIth an IVA, the entire conversation, from start to end, is quick and effortless. That’s first-class service.
We can’t expect to give every customer a first-class experience on the plane, but it’s completely possible on the phone. Making your customers feel valued can go a long to create trusted relationships that result in loyal customers. Interested in more ways to please travel and hospitality customers? Read our research report about Customer Preferences in Travel.