How AI Can Painlessly Upgrade Customer Service For Travelers

Written by Can Ozdoruk on Aug 21, 2019

Let’s explore how AI can drive customer satisfaction in travel and tourism  

Guests expect quick, convenient, and personal resolutions on their channel of choice. Chatbot statistics can help prove that customer service is a core driver for overall customer satisfaction, loyalty and future spend on travel and tourism. Without leveraging AI and customer service, it’s cost-prohibitive for companies to scale efforts that meet these quick-rising demands. According to our travel and hospitality customers, AI travel chatbots can resolve over 50% of pre-, day-of, and post-travel customer service issues in less than one second.

 A study published in the Harvard Business Journal found that responding to customers in five minutes or less when they have an issue leads to a willingness to spend $20 more in the future for a ticket on an airline.

Hotel rooms and plane seats look remarkably similar. Exceptional customer care is how travel and hospitality companies stand out and build brand love. In fact, while 46% of customers took loyalty programs into consideration,  60% say great customer service is critical. [Read how we’re helping WestJet drive high CSAT here.]

AI can manage sky-rocketing volume across an increasing number of channels

Airlines, hotels, and OTAs are experiencing a surge in customer service queries across customer support email, chat and messaging. A large percentage of these tickets, however, covers just a few topics and scenarios (i.e. flight status, baggage policies, etc.). AI can be trained to answer high-volume, highly-repeatable queries from historic call and email logs, and social messaging and chat history. Through machine learning, the AI will understand the various ways that a guest might ask the same question. The more data that is available to use in training the AI, the more accurate the AI will perform.

AI Agents remove the mundane work from the sphere of responsibility of the more expensive human agents. Agents are freed up to focus on the most pressing, high-stress customer issues (such as rebooking a missed flight). Agents are more fulfilled, so companies see lower agent attrition and save significant resources spent hiring and training new employees.

In Practice: Delegate repeatable guest issues to AI

AI can deflect the guest issues below from costly call centers: 

  • Booking: Discovery questions related to available flights, last-minute pricing and options can easily be delegated to AI for quick, accurate responses. Through integrations, such as the Zoho chatbot, an AI Agent can reply to questions like “Do you have any rooms available in Chicago tonight” or “Can I get on an earlier flight” immediately. 
  • Upgrades and value-added services: Once a ticket is booked, an AI Agent can also provide information on policies, cost and real-time availability for questions related to upgrades and ancillary purchases. “Can I get upgraded to a suite”, “Is there free wifi on my flight” or “Is business class available on my flight tomorrow” can be easily delegated to an AI Agent, never getting in a human agent’s queue, while also driving revenue through effortless interaction (i.e. one-click upgrade presented during the conversation). 
  • Status: “Is my flight on time”, “Can I check-in” and “What gate is my flight departing from” are a few examples of status-related questions that represent a large volume of tickets to customer care teams. An AI agent can easily handle queries like this with precision and speed.
  • Policies:  Policy questions like “How many bags can I bring” and “How much does an extra bag cost” are mundane questions that are easily automated with AI. With basic questions answered immediately, CSAT will soar.
  • Billing questions: Post-trip or purchase, many people have questions related to the specific charges or taxes they see. AI can provide initial color into various charges, answering questions like “why was my bill so high” or “what are these taxes for”.
  • Disruptions: AI can act as the first line of defense during weather delays, cancellations, and other disruptions. AI can gather customer information and pull booking options for a human agent to quickly manage.
  • Loyalty Programs and Points: An AI Agent can help people access information related to their loyalty status, miles/points earned, opportunities to “cash in” their rewards or help a traveler get credit for a recent stay or flight. A virtual agent can facilitate loyalty program support through simple API integration.

Click here for the 15 best customer experience tools to elevate CX.

AI can power five-star service, and pay off in the future spend 

Customer service represents an incredible business opportunity to drive revenue growth and dramatically increase CSAT for travel companies. It’s no longer strictly a resolution capacity, but a critical differentiator. Traveling is complex – logistically and emotionally. Issues happen and questions arise. And when they do, travelers have very high expectations for customer service.

Convenient, low-effort support across pre-booking, booking, and post-trip is what customers expect right now. But without bringing AI into the workforce, it’s very difficult for companies to meet these expectations.

AI customer support can delight customers with immediate resolutions while supercharging human agent productivity. Travel companies will also enjoy enormous cost savings by optimizing human agent time and reducing agent and customer churn.

Are you a travel and tourism company that’s ready to increase customer satisfaction? We’d love to chat.

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