People abandoning their booking part-way through the buying process costs bookings. We all know that. What can be harder to figure out is why they stop and what to do about it.
In the tourism world, people often have questions while booking – “Are bookings required?”, “Is it suitable for my 5-year-old?” to “What time do I need to arrive?” – and if the questions go unanswered, customers will abandon their booking.
Expectations about immediacy are changing: customers get impatient reading website content, and no matter how good your site is, people want answers now, and prefer not to go wading through your website to find it.
Enter the chatbot - or its smarter, better-looking cousin, the digital assistant - which uses artificial intelligence to answer questions using automated responses that have been tailored to your business. Some digital assistants also offer live chat with a real person or a combo of live chat and automated responses. (If you haven’t seen a chatbot in action, check these out: Black Cat Cruises or Redwoods Treewalk.)
Chatbots/digital assistants provide the customer service experience people are increasingly looking for: real-time, on-demand answers that are just a click away.
People are changing the way they communicate. They don’t want to ring you. They don’t want to search through your website to find the info they need, and they don’t even want to email you (it takes too long). A chatbot will answer their questions immediately, 24/7 – without tying up a staff member in many cases. It’s a win-win for you and your customer. Our tourism clients see up to 10 percent of chatbot users clicking the “book now” button.
Reducing abandoned bookings is all about improving customer service. Treat your website like your bricks and mortar office. There is always someone to greet customers when they walk through the door, why shouldn’t it be the same on your website? A digital assistant is that “person” for your website. You may be surprised to find that chatbot users say “Thanks” a lot. Just like the real world, when customers get the info they want, when they want it, they say “thank you”.
If you’re thinking that a chatbot can’t possibly answer all the incoming questions to your website, you’re right… but, it will answer quite a lot of them: between 50-75 percent, in fact (that’s typical for our customers). When the bot can’t answer, it will alert staff to help out, giving the visitor the best of both worlds. The chatbot, when used well, is an extension of your customer service team.
Chatbots offer a cost-effective way to address potential customers’ most pressing questions quickly and without friction. It is, hands-down, one of the best ways to improve the customer experience, and reduce your booking abandonment rate.
There are loads of digital assistant options out there, and it’s important to get the one that has features that suit what your business is trying to achieve. One of our clients moved from a single chat per month using an off-the-shelf solution that tried to capture emails at the start of the conversation, to an average 30-45 chats per month, using our digital assistant. Attempting to capture email addresses before the chat has started is the kiss of death for conversations, so be sure to check out features before you commit to a solution.
You’ve no doubt abandoned a booking yourself because the online booking process was overly complex. The more hoops a potential customer has to jump through, the more likely they will abandon their booking.
Digital assistants (or the good ones anyway) integrate seamlessly with your online booking system, like Rezdy, IBIS and RTBS. The chatbot can pull the availability from your booking system letting people know what’s available and suggesting alternatives if the time they are after is full. Questions about availability and scheduling are among the most commonly asked questions - and are easily answered by a chatbot.
Higher conversion is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential benefits from rolling out a chatbot on your website - productivity improvements are also significant: our clients typically save around 20 hours per month or more.
Some of New Zealand’s most iconic tourist attractions – Hobbiton, Polynesian Spa – as well as a range of leading edge tourism operators like Black Cat Cruises and Redwoods Treewalk use digital assistants. How about you?
Get hold of us if you are keen to find out more.