Five Key Things Travel Industry Contact Center Leaders Need to Consider in Today’s Economic Climate
Growing travel demand and disruptions in the last year can affect future customer loyalty depending on the contact center platforms in use. This is especially true for small to mid-size travel organizations and related businesses.
Here are five solutions and strategies to consider that help with digital transformation, intelligent efficiencies, and evolving the contact center for the future.
The growing demand for travel combined with schedule interruptions.
According to the US Travel Association, domestic leisure travel spending has already exceeded pre-pandemic levels, even when adjusted for inflation. Domestic business travel is finally growing, and volume is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels of 96% in 2023. International inbound travel is also making a big comeback, aided by the drop in pre-departure Covid testing.
There is no doubt airline flight, schedule, and network outage disruptions were issues felt across the US and the globe this past year during the height of the travel season. Is your organization ready for this future demand and dynamic environment? What happens if there are travel disruptions or communication outages? How will your organization manage any quick-change booking requests? How adaptable and scalable is your organization’s contact center to these market fluctuations or future growth? Do you have a flexible contact center solution to manage these changes?
Impacting Customer Loyalty
“Research has found that 89% of customers switch their loyalty due to poor customer experience. Moreover, 86% of them are willing to spend more with a customer-centric company with superior customer experience, which could eventually uplift profitability by 35%,” according to research from Frost and Sullivan.
Airlines, hotels, reservation organizations, and many travel organizations need to be thinking about customer satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement across the customer journey to prepare for the future. Affecting customer loyalty through excellent service and exceptional interactions is key to repairing lost consumer confidence and long-term organizational survival. The right foundation and solutions in place for your contact center can foster, support, and reinforce these relationships and avoid negatively affecting customer interactions, contact center agent productivity, and even contact center agent satisfaction. Agents’ jobs become that much more difficult in handling customer inquiries and complaints without the proper tools in place to manage customer engagements, risking increasing frustration and employee turnover.
Communications and solutions must be fast. According to a report from McKinsey, 75% of online customers expect help within 5 minutes. There is no doubt that the travel and hospitality industry continues to become more focused on the right customer experience technology as they search for ways to consistently improve the customer experience.
Does your organization have the unlimited ability to change, adapt and iterate your contact center to meet demand amidst rapidly changing market dynamics and the current economic climate? Some companies are still using on-premise legacy, disconnected or outdated systems where contact center managers need to open many applications to gain any type of insight into their operations. Changes to these legacy systems are complicated and take time and added staff to deploy. Other organizations have bought out-of-the-box contact center as a service (CCaaS), a form of software as a service solution (SaaS), that is limiting and still missing a level of customization to their specific organization, especially when business needs change. These solutions limit precise personalization for their customer and industry. Or, if they need customization, it can be a costly and lengthy change to deploy. There are infrastructure costs to your business and customer experience using outdated, disparate systems. A recent study done by Twilio with customer experience and marketing leaders indicated that while many organizations may be strategizing on how to reduce costs and maintain ROI in this economic climate, those that invest in digital customer engagement saw their top-line revenues increase by an average of 70%. Building a strong technology foundation that supports adaptability, resilience, and agility should be part of your organization’s digital transformation roadmap.
For decades, businesses have been forced to choose between customization and speed. Many of our customers overcame contact center technology challenges like these with a comprehensive, omnichannel prebuilt contact center platform that was fully customizable, deployable in days, and saved development time, resources, and operational costs. Digital solutions like these do exist and are highly cost-effective. To simplify, today’s modern contact center combines the best of a communication platform as a service (CPaaS) foundation with advanced API technology with easy customization in a programmable platform. Making digital investments and seeking out the right call center software platforms for your small or medium business to address these challenges now will transform and protect your organization in the future.
Intelligent Efficiencies and the Cloud
What if you could design the ultimate call center platform? What if you had real-time insight into key metrics and could better manage call handle times, first contact resolutions, wait times, and sales conversions without effort in one sleek view? What if your organization could deliver precise personalization of customer experiences all on one platform and manage tasks across multiple channels with a single user interface? Are your solutions missing something that you just cannot effectively resolve? Where is your organization on the technology evolution roadmap? If you are still facing a choice between customizability and ease of deployment, a contact center that delivers complete operational insight and integrates with applications you already use is closer than you think. It’s readily available in a 100% agile cloud solution, deployable in days, and delivers ongoing, cost-effective support. Solutions that can integrate with your own homegrown CRM platform or other well-known CRMs like Salesforce, Hubspot, Zendesk, and others will help your organization plan for expansion and gain intelligent efficiencies. A recent Forrester study reinforced that “the key area organizations should increase investment in include customer insights and engagement and technologies that improve the customer experience, reduce costs and to focus on technology tuned for optimization and resilience.”
Platforms that offer scalability, elasticity, efficiency, and affect productivity are no longer wish lists. They are critical in today’s dynamic environment and completely achievable with the leading cloud solutions on the market. One of these solutions is TwilioFlex together with Xcelerate. Clients of ours regularly see substantial cost savings and improvements across many critical metrics following implementation.
What about SMS (Short Message Service) or Text Marketing?
Many CX leaders continue to rely on “tried and true” technologies, but SMS and web chat are gaining traction. According to a recent survey we did with Customer Experience leaders across industries, we found that:
- 87% use email
- 80% use voice
- 57% use SMS
- 48% use Webchat
- 28% use virtual agents
A few mentioned social media.
Consumers with busy schedules regularly expect the ability to communicate and change plans quickly and conveniently with organizations through the ease of a text or in whatever manner and channel are most convenient. Remember the last time you had to change a flight, cancel a reservation, or adjust an online order or appointment? How did you make that change? Was it convenient or an annoying headache of an experience? These are just some of the many instances where SMS or text marketing is so critical to customer communication and relationships. There are many more communication strategies deployable with text marketing.
Most of us carry mobile devices everywhere. And mobile marketing industry statistics have shown that users open SMS messages over 99% percent of the time, almost guaranteeing recipients have read the message. All sizes and types of organizations, from the enterprise level in travel, retail, finance, and healthcare to the local pizza, hair salons, dentists, and florists, have begun using everything from voice and live agent web or chatbots to SMS messaging. If your organization has not adopted SMS messaging into your customer experience engagement strategy or it is ineffectively using a difficult-to-manage disparate system, it’s time to migrate to a better option. Organizations that implement solutions like SMS messaging and integrate email, voice, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Webchat in an omnichannel platform will improve their customer experiences, streamline customer engagement activities, and meet compliance with the SMS marketing regulations in their locale. Consider these key tips before implementing text messaging:
- Get permission from customers who opt-in to receive test
- Consider a unique, brand-friendly, memorable short 5–6-digit phone number/code for commercial and mobile marketing.
- Be clever, concise, and compliant, and offer an opt-out.
- Choose proper keywords to encourage them to connect with you.
- Have a conversation and respond in real-time.
- Measure what works.
- Go global – choose a solution provider that can scale with your business, grow, and meet any time zone constraints.
- Start with a solid foundation – get the right partner that can include CRM integrations, smart data views, and include messaging, voice, and video in a comprehensive program that will give you complete customization and control like the Twilio-Flex Xcelerate solution.
Differentiated customer experiences are built, not bought. While competitors rush to build hundreds of features and define customer engagement flows on behalf of their customers, Twilio-Flex delivers the core features that customers really need and gives them flexibility…hence the name…to create highly tailored agent, supervisor and customer experiences.
Twilio-Flex, together with Xcelerate, simplifies deployment and provides the agent and supervisor tools needed to support their business. Clients who choose to deploy these together can skip the upfront development and get up and running fast with prebuilt features and integrations with complete control to customize and adapt to their individual contact centers.