Communication plays a vital role in the hospitality industry. The success of a hotel thrives on customer relationships. Behind every customer service call, there is a real human who has a question or concern that needs to be addressed. That person needs to feel understood, heard and served. It might be easier to deal with just one, two, or 5 such callers a day. But, what do you do when there are hundreds of such calls and you don’t even know which calls are important? At the end of the day, your customer service agent might just lose his patience and feel exhausted. This is where an IVR solution comes in ensuring that the clients are instantly taken care of and the right call reaches the customer service agent.
The main goal in the hotel industry is to engage your customer and set your business apart from the rest. You must continuously provide your customers with an out-of-this-world experience from the moment they book your hotel up until they check out.
Let us have a look at today’s traveler and how IVR or Interactive Voice Response solution can help the hotel industry to improve customer engagement with such travelers.
1.1 Understanding Today’s Traveler
The travel industry is constantly evolving, and the pace of change is now faster than ever before, as emerging technology and shifting demographics alter expectations and standard practices. The average travel contact center now has five or more digital and voice channels. Customers are using multiple channels (sometimes at once) and want seamless engagement between them.
Today’s traveler who dials a contact center for help is seeking convenience, expertise, and up-to-the-minute information. They are educated and aware because of the Internet and may even compare options online before escalating their query to the contact center level. This means you have to use your IVR solution very wisely. Here’s how.
2. How to Implement IVR Solution in Your Hotel
IVR solutions can do wonders for your hotel, all you need to do is integrate it well with your services. So, where can you use an IVR solution? Let’s answer this question in detail.
2.1 Hotel Booking
Hotel booking can be completely automated and can be turned into a very enthralling experience for the caller or prospective guest! How? You must have heard stories about how frustrating it is when you are trying to book a hotel and the person on the end of the phone is just not getting the point. With IVR you can turn this sour experience into one of the most pleasant ones. Using caller ID, IVR can greet the caller in their native language, wouldn’t that be a pleasant surprise?
The IVR can also help the guest browse through various room types, tariffs, amenities all in their own language. This makes it much faster for the guest to reach a decision and confirm the booking right then.
2.2 Personalizing Experience
IVR solution can prove to be very useful in maintaining relationships with repeat customers. For example, an IVR solution can make outgoing calls or send messages for birthday or anniversary wishes, offer them a coupon for the special occasion and invite them for a pleasant stay.
It can also be used to enhance the customer experience if they have started at the hotel earlier. Such guests can be greeted with their name, given more priority over first-time callers, and so on. Even a little bit of personalization works in wonderful ways because customers love getting attention. It will make them feel more comfortable and confident in your hotel service. They would never feel like they are just a name and number in your long list of guests over the years.
2.3 Processing Transactions
Simple transactions like paying bills, updating account information, etc can also make use of IVR solutions. In this situation, you are allowing customers to make payments using touch-tone or voice-activated technology. IVRs with a smartly designed phone menu allow you to easily tailor call flows, makes collecting payments simple for bookings right on the call.
Now, you might think being able to process simple transactions using IVR might not be helpful for your hotel. If you are not looking at the bigger picture, then surely it may sound like an additional feature. However, if you compare the two scenarios shown below, you would understand.
Let’s for a moment think of a scenario where a customer called for information about the room tariffs and types of accommodation available in your hotel.
Scenario 1 – IVR without payment processing feature
The caller hears about all the amenities, gathers all the information he needs, and then cuts the call. Now whether he is going to go to your website and confirm the booking, you don’t know. Your contact with the customer is lost. He might go to your website to book, but, find a much better offer or more convenience from your competition and book the rooms there.
Scenario 2 – IVR with payment processing feature
In this case, once you have conveyed all about your hotel amenities, exclusives, and tariffs, you can guide the customer subtly to the next step. You can ask them which room they would like to book and help them make a payment right then and there to confirm the booking. After completing the transaction, you have turned that customer into your hotel guest. Once you are done with everything and the customer ends the call, both of you are satisfied with the outcome. The caller confirms the hotel booking and you have got a customer, no time wasted, a win-win for both parties.
2.4 Extend Business Hours
IVR solutions can help you provide uninterrupted 24×7 customer support via pre-recorded messages. You never know when a caller might call, so it’s always good to have someone take care of it even when your customer service agents are unavailable to take the call. IVR can also be very useful during holidays to handle such calls. All you need to do is craft a very clever and informative message for calls during such hours. Even if it’s a frustrated customer seeking help, it’s always better to have some answers for them rather than silence.
2.5 Self Service
It can be a very useful service for any hotel industry. IVR can help customers answer common questions they might have by themselves. It can also help them check-in, make special requests for the stay, and so much more with IVR. For example, your customer can complete check-in right from the IVR and choose from a menu of options about what they would like upon reaching. It could be anything from requesting for the air-conditioning to be on to decorating the room for celebrations. It all boils down to how you make use of these features in IVR.
IVR solutions can also be used for guests who are already staying at your hotel. They can use it to request everyday tasks like laundry service, room clean-up, reporting problems, billing inquiries, or contact a staff member. That’s not all IVR can also help with registering wake-up call requests, do-not-disturb requests, or book slots at the gym/spa or any other facilities.
The benefits and profits involved with the installation of an IVR system for your hotel industry completely outweigh the initial costs and deterrents. Not only does it offer amazing around-the-clock customer service, but it also makes your potential customers and hotel guests feel heard and satisfied. More importantly, this system massively reduces the cost to your company in terms of streamlining your workforce and reducing human workload.
The hospitality industry, as well as travel contact centers, are rapidly evolving. Those businesses that are able to adapt and stay one step ahead of their competitors when it comes to customer service will be the industry leaders positioned for future success. If you are looking for an IVR solution that offers you these features and more to make your hotel a roaring success, please get in touch with us for more information at +971-4-454-1054 or contact us.