Tourism operators finding it hard to get staff during the busy summer period need to look no further than smart tech like an AI chatbot. Chatbots and humans are the winning customer service combo.
There is a good chance that at least one of your competitors has a chatbot on their website or social media page. They are increasingly common because the new generation AI driven ones really work. Chatbots are particularly good at answering routine questions, and do so 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, freeing up your team to spend time on people that need extra help.
The days when customers ring or email are on the way out. Research backs up the idea that customers prefer to do business with a company they can message. They like - and expect - instant answers. They like the convenience of chatbots, which are becoming more and more common - Facebook alone has over 300,000 chatbots.
“Can I make a booking?”, “How much does it cost?”, “I need to cancel”, “Where are you?” “What time do I have to be there?” - these and an endless number of other routine questions are easily answered by a chatbot. In fact, between 40-80 percent of questions are answered end-to-end by the chatbot, without any intervention by staff. How many emails and phone calls do you get like this a week? Imagine the hours saved.
The chatbot can draw live data from your booking system to answer questions about availability. It can provide product information on the type of rooms or activities you have, details about your latest promotional offer, wheelchair accessibility, cancellation policy and more… all without staff having to lift a finger.
The best digital assistants and chatbots offer a combination of live chat and automated responses, and handle routine questions on their own or seamlessly route customers to your team to address the more complex issues that still require a human touch. So, a chatbot offers the best of both worlds for you and your customers.
Finding suitably skilled people to fill vacancies is difficult, and being forced to fill positions with under-experienced staff is something many tourism operators can relate to. The flow-on effect is inferior customer service and, more than likely, poor quality responses.
On-brand, correct, well-articulated answers to routine questions are possible every single time with a chatbot - without the hassle of training new staff every season.
Training new team members is expensive and time-consuming. Learning the ins-and-outs of a new business takes time, and when staff are under pressure, mistakes creep in… wrong information is given out, website leads get missed, phone calls go unanswered, and emails don’t get responded to - all of which costs you bookings.
Not only does the chatbot know the answers to routine questions, it can teach your newest recruits too. Staff can find answers to unknown questions themselves by asking the chatbot, cutting down training time and ensuring that responses that are on-point, and consistent with your brand.
The chance of losing a customer or booking is greatly reduced with an instant reply. Chatbots provide the customer service experience people are increasingly looking for: real-time, on-demand answers that are just a click away. Your staff can’t always provide that level of service… but a chatbot can.
Up to 65 percent of customer enquiries are dealt with end-to-end by a chatbot. And typically around 10 percent of chats - though some get up to 25 percent - will click through to your booking system.
Automated responses aren’t just as good as a real person, they are better... customers appreciate the convenience of having their question addressed quickly. 64 percent of internet users reckon 24 hour service is the best feature of chatbots.
A chatbot reduces the need for customers to email you - and puts a big dent in the inevitable backlog of unanswered emails that can occur during the busy summer period. It also helps reduce call wait times and increase the efficiency and quality of your customer conversations.
Let’s say a member of your customer service team is handling 12 routine enquiries a day (either by email or phone) - each one taking 5 minutes to resolve including the call itself plus any follow-up. That’s an hour a day they could be spending doing something else more productive. Multiply that over the course of the year and multiple staff and the potential time savings from implementing a chatbot are significant.
Chatbots and digital assistants have come of age and they are far from the clunky, robotic tech of a few years ago. They answer using natural language, can be customised to look however you want, and are playing a larger role in customer service than ever. No doubt at least one of your competitors has one. Some of New Zealand’s biggest names in tourism - Hobbiton, Polynesian Spa, Redwoods Treewalk, Edgewater - Lake Wanaka - are using chatbots to support their customers, what about you?