Mark is taking a much-needed vacation after five years. He contacts his favorite hotel to make reservations. To his surprise, the sales rep not only proactively offers the city-facing room he usually opts for but also offers to arrange for sparkling water in the rooms and make a reservation at his favorite Italian restaurant down the road. Mark is thrilled that even after five years, the hotel values him as a customer and continues to provide superior experiences. Understand the importance of excellent travel customer service as a mark of success.
Mark’s experience perfectly captures every hospitality company’s vision for customer service. While customer service is a crucial part of all industries, it is especially important in travel and hospitality. The industry considers customer satisfaction its number one success metric, and rightfully so. But what makes it the ‘make or break’ factor?
Why does first-class service matter in the hospitality and travel industry?
When customers set to travel, they want to break away from everyday routines and experience new things. They travel to take a break, get away, celebrate, or just explore. Whatever the reason for travel, the one thing customers want is for it to be hassle-free. Customers want swift bookings, easy cancellations, personalized recommendations, discounted travel options, and more.
Once they arrive at their destination, they expect the same hassle-free experience at their hotels. From check-ins to special requests to hospitable staff, customers expect hotels to provide luxurious experiences. And like with every other industry, when customers are happy, they leave positive reviews and engage in word-of-mouth recommendations. Several hotel and tourism companies invest heavily in these reviews and recommendations.
With the advent of the internet, these reviews and recommendations have had a magnifying effect on a company’s perception. A simple Google search reveals so much information - the good and the bad - and influences decisions on whether or not to engage with companies. Errors are broadcasted worldwide and go viral and so do good deeds. Now more than ever, the travel and hospitality industry must strive hard to deliver consistent customer service.
While most tourism customer service essentials are already in practice, there is always room for improvement and offer delightful experiences, especially with the advent of technology. The primary role of the customer service team in the travel and hospitality industry is to provide guests with positive experiences. These experiences include providing necessary information, assisting in bookings and reservations, offering recommendations and advice, making arrangements based on preferences, and providing personalized support to ensure a human touch. By doing so, customers associate excellent service with properties and turn into loyal, repeat customers.
Offering stellar tourism customer service also means an edge over competitors. Often, customer experience is what finally sets two businesses apart, making it a critical decisive factor. And finally, companies need to provide superior customer service because poor customer service costs businesses money - more than $1.6 Trillion, as per the last available data.
Given the important role customer service plays in travel, how can organizations ensure they are providing delightful experiences? By setting up a team dedicated solely to ensuring customer service practices and standards are put in place. In short, the answer lies in setting up a Center of Excellence (CoE) in customer service.
What is a CoE, and why should travel and hospitality companies build one?
A CoE, or Center of Excellence, serves as a central unit to bring expertise into a particular field or department. Sometimes called a ‘capability center’, CoEs combine learnings and best practices to deliver high-quality work and enable consistent performance. In customer service, this involves assessing existing gaps, implementing corresponding solutions, identifying and investing in technology that can aid in delivering superior experiences, providing training to customer service professionals, and auditing the process from time to time to ensure consistency.
CoEs in customer service drive innovation and improvement. In general, quality customer service involves a satisfactory experience of being listened to or heard. Traditional support no longer cuts it, companies must strive to offer positive and superior experiences instead. A CoE in travel customer service would cover aspects such as -
- Response times - With the roaring internet came instant access to information. Customers today no longer wish to wait for days for responses. They want quick and quality responses when it comes to customer service in the hospitality industry.
- Efficiency - Customers want interactions to be quick, but they also want them to be efficient, adding value to the conversation.
- Data protection - Often, customers worry about the security of the data they disclose to travel and hospitality companies. Assuring customers that their data will not be mishandled and only be used to enhance customer experience is necessary.
- Personalization - The one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work in today’s hyper-personalized engagements. Customers expect customer service teams to provide dedicated support with empathy.
Building a CoE for customer service that caters to these primary requirements can give companies a competitive edge and help provide smooth experiences to customers.
How can a customer service CoE drive delightful experiences?
The CoE can begin setting up and polishing existing customer service practices with technology to understand customer data and make informed decisions. Let’s look at how this can be achieved:
Make processes convenient
In today’s fast-paced world, time is definitely as scarce as it is valuable. Customers do not want to spend an overwhelming amount of time planning, researching, and booking their travels—the simpler and more efficient the process, the happier the customer. AI-driven customer interaction platforms like Xaqt can automate customer self-service to ensure information is available instantly and deploy conversational AI chatbots to take customers through booking processes in simple steps.
Provide faster resolutions
In the travel and hospitality industry, customers often run into inconveniences that stem from new places, language barriers, or even logistic issues. A traveler doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait a long period for query resolution, they expect their query to be resolved instantly and appropriate action to be taken swiftly. Xaqt’s AI-optimized platform can help agents and chatbots resolve queries faster by acting as a central repository for all customer and contact center data, thereby offering full visibility.
Offer omnichannel support
Customers want companies and brands to meet where they want to be met. Companies can no longer only offer a single channel of communication. In order to grow with the times, they must provide seamless support and experience across channels. Travel companies need to invest in technology that allows them to integrate all of their key channels where their customers are present. Xaqt’s omnichannel platform helps customer service teams deliver personalized customer experiences, all on one powerful platform. Agents can provide consistent and swift responses no matter the channel.
Customers are willing to share their digital data if it means that tourism companies can make personalized recommendations based on it. Customers don’t want to be treated like the masses; they want to be listened to and heard; personalized conversations show customers you care about them. Xaqt’s conversational IVAs are based on a unique combination of AI technologies that learn from customer interactions and continuously improve to provide hyper-personalized experiences.
Investing in technology can do wonders for customer service in the hotel industry, but nothing can replace the power of the human touch. Often it becomes difficult to monitor conversations to ensure the messaging is on-brand and meets customer service standards. Xaqt’s contact center platform stores every customer interaction that is immediately available for analysis, helping trainers spot errors as they happen and provide adequate training.
The CoE can leverage the power of AI-driven technology to establish best practices in customer service that can fuel memorable experiences during travel and stay. A key aspect to ensuring a seamless experience is to invest in the right technology.
Build your CoE with powerful data and insights from Xaqt
Xaqt’s unified AI-driven contact center platform helps hotels and travel companies provide excellent tourism customer service. By bringing together multiple customer engagement channels on one platform, agents can provide uninterrupted, consistent, seamless support no matter the channel.
Xaqt’s multichannel AI agents can also learn from customer interactions and continuously improve. A central conversation database also captures all customer interactions that can be accessed instantly for personalized support. As a result, hotels and travel companies can keep track of customer preferences based on past interactions and constantly provide superior experiences.
Building a CoE for customer service can be challenging without access to the right kind of tools. Witness how implementing the right technology, accessing relevant data, and mining rich insights can help transform your customer service wing. Request a demo to let the technology do the talking.