Jul 24, 2019 | Customer Service | Reading Time: 7 minutes
There is a misconception that automated customer service and hotels don’t match. Also, that chatbots take away human warmth, negatively impacting the hotel’s service quality.
However, with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural language, automatic responses are more personalized as many clients don’t even realize they’re talking to a machine. Still, hotels hesitate to adopt these kinds of services. They live in the belief that hospitality and automated customer service can’t work together.
The truth is, in the multichannel world that we live in, a human being simply can’t handle the multiple demands. And it is important to know that before enchanting your guests, you need to be available for them in the most efficient way possible.
If you are still a true believer that chatbots can’t perform a miracle in the hotel industry, take a look at the 7 advantages of automatic customer service in hotels that we listed below.
Be aware that you might witness the miracle of the multiplication of direct sales. You’ve been warned!
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1. Guests’ expectations
According to SuperOffice, up to 70% of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. So, by investing in automated customer service in your hotel, you will be giving what customers want and expect.
Making customers happy should be your priority. On average, satisfied customers tell nine people about their experiences. On the other hand, angry customers tell, on average, sixteen about their bad experience.
Font: Super Office
In the competitive and fast world that we live in, self-service is not a luxury or expendable. It should be a part of customer service.
Besides, with the COVID-19 pandemic, self-service became a MUST to minimize the risks of contamination. Guests expect a contactless experience as much as possible now. Procedures like check-in and check-out can and should be automatized.
There are many ways a hotel can automatize the check-in procedure: guest form, FAQ page, kiosk, or by a chatbot like in the example below:
2. Operational Improvement
As I said at the beginning of the text, automation didn’t come to replace personalized service, but to help it. It makes it possible for human assistants to have time to fully dedicate to the art of hospitality, without having to stress with simple questions that overload work on a daily basis.
Without having to struggle between demands, the effectiveness of hotel staff increases, and clients can get all the attention they deserve. In fact, it is not enough to help a customer when he needs it. The staff should proactively reach clients to check if everything is going smoothly. And that takes time.
Besides, with this “extra” time, reservations agents will be able to fully focus on sales and the potential new guests. Not having to answer simple and repetitive questions, they can do strategic tasks and help in a more efficient way to increase the hotel’s revenue. That means that technology gives hotel staff the most scarce and valuable resource in hospitality: time.
This is especially important when hotels need to deal with downsizing. Many properties had to take this drastic measure due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the hotel industry is still on its way to recovery, hotels have to find ways to keep the quality of the service with fewer human resources and automation is a very good option.
In this episode of the Hotel Cast Podcast, we chat with Shona Whitehead, Managing Partner of Cogent Blue, on how hotels can optimize their sales performances and the gap between hotel commercial teams and techs. Listen now:
3. Multiple Channels
Have you ever tried to answer different people with different questions simultaneously? Impossible, isn’t it? Someone always ends up waiting.
Unfortunately, this is a common dilemma faced by many hoteliers: who comes first in customer service? We ask hospitality leaders how they would deal with the multichannel challenge in customer service. Read in this post theirs insightful answers: [Multichannel Customer Service]
Let’s take a closer look at room quotations requests. When a quotation request is sent to a human chat, it usually takes a few minutes to be answered. But clients will hardly wait that long. What would probably happen is that the client leaves the webchat to never return.
One of the advantages of having a hotel chatbot is the ability to answer multiple clients on multiple channels in multiple languages at the same time.
Especially now with the pandemic, people are hesitating to travel again, so they need all reassurance they can have about the hygiene protocols and the hotel’s operations before booking a room. More than ever, your hotel needs to be available to capture these potential guests by providing the answers they are looking for:
Asksuite’s chatbot provides a COVID-19 topic where hotels can put all the information for their guests and potential guests regarding the procedures and operations during this pandemic.
4. Time Response
In addition to the waiting time, if you give your client short and incomplete answers, the chances of him booking with you drop significantly. To give a full answer is crucial when texting your potential clients.
🎥 In this short video, we chat with Hospitality Leader Christine Tripp about the 3 mistakes hotel teams are making with Mobile Chat:
A human agent takes several minutes to carry out a full guest service. On the other hand, a robot takes only a few seconds to give a thorough answer, with pictures and prices.
What usually takes a few minutes for us to do, the software can be programmed to do in a few seconds. Not even Usain Bolt is as fast as a chatbot!
5. Omnichannel Service
For any business, it is important to be available on the channel chosen by the client. That is also true for the hotel business. It is not enough to answer emails or telephone. Your hotel must be online on different communication channels: website, social media, and message apps.
But we are only humans. We can’t answer all channels at the same time! Fortunately, omnichannel technology integrates all channels in one platform making online communication much easier. However, many people mistake multichannel for omnichannel.
A multichannel business means that customers have more than one channel to communicate, interact, or buy from, but each channel works separately. On the other hand, an omnichannel business means customers have more than one channel for their disposal AND all channels are integrated.
In a nutshell, all communication channels are centralized in one single screen and reservation agents are able to manage all service channels on the same platform. Customers’ data is shared, making it easier for the customer to engage and to build a loyal relation with the company.
Take a look at how the Asksuite omnichannel platform looks like. You can see in one single screen all interactions from different sources:
6. Single Training
Turnover rates in hotels are quite high. Every time a new employee is hired, time is spent in training so the hotel’s standard is kept even with staff’s changes.
This adapting stage can cause a work overload on staff members, promoting an operational deficit. This kind of problem does not exist with a chatbot. When you hire a robot, you will only have to teach it one single time.
Hoteliers used to be worried about the quality of the interactions provided by chatbots. If they would understand what it’s been asked. But chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence have evolved a lot in terms of understanding Natural Language.
Take a look at the example below. The visitor asks about pets in the hotel and gets his answer. The bot even understands the “thank you” part:
Artificial Intelligence is also present in several hotel management systems, like Revenue Management System (RMS) or Reputation Management System. The AI is behind the software processing a big volume of data. As you can see, a big part of the technology trends in the hotel industry has AI at its core.
7. Cost Reduction
The financial factor can not be ignored. Chatbots can be used to reduce operational costs. According to Forrester Research and Oracle, a web self-service can reduce cost by as much as $11 per call, as you can see in the graphic below:
In addition, having automation technologies is considerably cheaper than hiring multilingual employees to work only during business hours. A robot doesn’t take pauses, works 24/7, and can communicate in several languages.
Travelers often check the hotel website before booking the accommodation. So your website must be prepared for visitors. Speaking the traveler’s language increases the chances of capturing those visitors significantly and the odds of them booking with you. By making your website familiar, you will probably conquer more territories.
Automated customer service is the key to success
Researches about customer services conducted by big companies tell us that clients want an online self-service channel. That proves that automated customer service and hotels are a good match, no doubt! In addition, automating services saves time and increases the staff’s effectiveness.
However, it is important to point out that automation didn’t come to exclude human service. It is just a support tool to help human agents to deliver outstanding guest service. It is even possible a human intervention at any time in any conversation the bot is having, so humans take care of more complex questions, while the chatbot answers the repetitive ones. It’s teamwork at its best!
Personalization and automation can coexist in a wonderful hotel environment.
*post updated on 06-04-2020
👉 Hotel Automated Customer Service was also on the agenda of our Hotel Cast TV webinar series. We invited Customer Experience Expert Shep Hyken and award-winning GM Christine Tripp to discuss:
Humans or automation: does one model fit all?
Find out watching the episode – CLICK HERE