August is coming to an end and this is often accompanied by an uptick in road trips, vacations, eating out and taking full advantage of the final gasp of summer. This spike in business for hospitality and travel industries also means an increase in customer support requests and a large influx of calls to businesses and call centers. In fact, Americans are projected to spend $100 billion in summer vacations in 2014 (Note: This stat is exclusive to leisure trips; it doesn’t account for business travel). This spike in business for the hospitality and travel industry also means an increase in customer support requests with a large influx of calls to businesses and call centers.
Recently, Comcast was ostracized for the worst-ever customer service call. In an effort to avoid situations like these, it is essential for businesses in the travel and hospitality industry make excellent customer service an integral part of their business plan as it can directly impact the bottom line. In the year 2014, speedy and pleasant customer service - brought to us via technological advancements and highly trained service reps - isn’t just appreciated, it is expected.
To ensure guests keep booking and rebooking, make sure your customer service program is the best it can be. Here, CorvisaCloud offers four tips to help keep customers happy, even when bumps in the road arise:
Start with your staff – Great customer service is only possible if staff is properly prepared from the minute they are hired. In order to create optimal customer service programs, evaluate your team’s credentials—are they properly equipped to manage your organization’s needs? Hire individuals who are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and eager to learn. Additionally, invest in training programs and seminars on industry trends and education specific to your service offering: Some companies tout a 6x ROI for every $1 spent on quality training. It’s a small investment upfront in terms of training costs, but the knowledge gained will ensure your customer service team is highly skilled and can repay your efforts exponentially in the future.
Live by the “Three Ps”: Proactivity, Pleasantness & Planning – To ensure you and your staff are prepared for an increased volume of customer service activity, make sure to have the maximum number of agents on call when you know traffic will be high. For example, if the spring break promotional package will launch on the first of the month, make sure your front line is appropriately staffed not only to handle the volume of calls, but also adequately trained to respond to customer needs. Also, be proactive. Monitor call volumes and agent conversations early on in the promotion; adjust staffing and call scripts, and provide additional agent training as needed to cover any gaps. And, as always, make sure your customer service staff is friendly and enthusiastic. Sixty-four percent of customers are contacting you to troubleshoot a problem, your need a team in place that can address these concerns quickly and satisfactorily.
Upgrade your equipment – Snazzy and seamless are two words to keep in mind when implementing and upgrading technology. For instance, hotels can eliminate outdated key cards and metal room keys by turning customers’ smartphones into keys and mobile wallets to use within your hotel. Also, larger hospitality organizations with call centers could consider replacing costly and stodgy data centers with cloud-based computing solutions. Industry leaders are keeping ahead of the game by implementing nimble, affordable and flexible cloud solutions for everything from call centers to hotel property management systems and enterprise leaders are taking note: Oracle acquired hospitality cloud provider Micros for $5.3 billion and Priceline recently bought cloud property management system provider Hotel Ninjas.
Route smart –When your contact center is receiving calls, ensure inquiries are passed to the appropriate division of your service team to best help your customer quickly and efficiently. For example, if your customer experiences sudden illness, needs to adjust the reservation and is asking for a unique credit outside of the agent’s authority, make sure the agent knows where to route the call. Or, better yet, have the agent reach out to the other party and stay on with the caller to help square things away. When transferring the customer, make sure someone is at the other end of the call—customers seeking help will be frustrated and angry if they are routed multiple times and end with a voice mail rather than a live person. If you are using IVR (Interactive Voice Response), then make sure the call scripts include options that address customers needs, and maintain and test routing plans to ensure all numbers are active and appropriately staffed.
If you’re in the hospitality industry, it’s never too late to get started on making improvements that will keep your guests coming back and perhaps more importantly, sharing their great experience with friends and family. These tips will ensure that your summer increase in customer service calls will result in happy customers year-round.