How smart hotels leverage AI to maximize the ROI of their call center

Benjamin Devisme 31 August 2020
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Hotel contact centers are often costs when they should be profit centers because human agents handle everything manually. AI provides an opportunity to filter and solve customer requests so that staff can stop answering FAQ and focus more on advanced sales & customer service. 

The real obstacle to hotel call center modernization is complacency. Hoteliers tend to compare the job that call-center agents do now and try to find a machine that could do the same. 

AI is a disruptive technology, that not only seeks to automate tasks but can also change the way a hotel contact center works. If you are looking to implement AI in your call center, it has to be part of a deep transformation process that will create a new balance between human and virtual agents to use the best skills each one has to offer. 

Leverage AI bots to automate inbound customer interactions

Clearly, AI is still far from human capabilities but making human-like robots is not the point. Seeing the glass half full or half empty is your decision. Focus on using AI for what it’s good at instead of dwelling on what it can’t do. AI is better than humans at handling repetitive customer queries. 

AI bots boost hotel call center efficiency

Hotel call centers receive the same customer requests every day offering a high potential for automation. Most inbound customer queries originate from email, phone, chat & messaging channels. While AI-powered voice assistants are still facing some elementary challenges (that will soon be overcome) email,  chat, and social media are ripe for automation so why not start there?

NH hotels call center manages inbound emails with AI-powered email automation

In the world of hospitality, NH Hotels has embraced this idea and has been using AI for years to solve email dispatching challenges. In short, NH contact center receives thousands of email requests every day and uses Natural Language Understanding technologies (NLU) to automatically identify and process simple reservation requests.

NH Email Bot Process

  • Handle simple requests for availabilities
  • Identify MICE requests
    • When a request is not interesting, notify the customer with a template email. 
    • When a request is relevant, send it to a Mice agent for immediate follow up. (Average response time <1h on working days Vs 1.5 days before). 

Example of NLU applied to email interpretation (Source: HotelRezBot)

Zafiro Hotels & Resorts leverage Quicktext AI-powered chatbot to handle customer requests instantly

Chatbots should also be part of your strategy. Zafiro Hotels & Resorts implemented Quicktext chatbot on their website and social media channels in 2019 and were able to deliver instant automated answers to 80% of customer queries resolving call center saturation issues. (See detailed case study)

Maria Serra, E-commerce manager at Zafiro Hotels & Resorts

Chatbots are not only good at answering FAQ they can also manage frequently requested tasks such as modifying, canceling reservations or processing upgrades 

AI + humans working together maximizes call center sales conversion and customer satisfaction rate

The volume of customer queries is a challenge for any call center. AI Bots act as a filter so that 70-80% of inbound queries are resolved automatically. Humans should focus on highly qualified requests only. This means that you no longer need an army of low-skill human agents and should start looking for fewer but extremely well-trained staff who are able to make their own decisions to resolve complex sales and complaints 

NH intelligent email manager and Zafiro chatbot can both handle direct booking requests. On average, a chatbot alone will achieve a 10% conversion rate. Additionally, hotels can re-engage customers who did not confirm their booking by leveraging information provided by the chatbot and if done well the conversion rate reaches up to 35%. Voice calls follow-up get the best results.

At the same time as you implement AI you should be investing in staff training so that your team can acquire the new capabilities and decision-making skills requested in an AI-driven call center. What negotiation toolbox are you giving to your sales agents? How can you help your customer support team develop empathy and problem-solving abilities? 

Have a look at this article that describes a proper sales follow up process in an AI-driven call center

About Quicktext: Quicktext helps hotels increase their direct bookings and improve customer satisfaction. It works by centralizing the main instant messaging channels that hotels and guests can use to communicate such as live chat, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. The frequent interactions such as book a room or what is the time of check-in, I need an airport transfer, etc…are instantly handled by Quicktext chatbot. Quicktext chatbot helps hotels improve operational efficiency and increase online direct revenues by 11% on average. 

Have a quick look at Quicktext product video 

More details on the Quicktext official website: https://www.quicktext.im/

If you wish to learn more about the Quicktext , contact Benjamin Devisme at bde@quicktext.im.