Today, Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in nearly every part of our lives. And one area where it’s become particularly useful is with customer service in the hotel industry. As a result, many hotels are rethinking their customer service strategies and looking for ways to incorporate AI and chatbots.
Chatbots are a form of AI technology that simulates voice or text-based conversations with humans. These are already being used in customer service, with nearly 23% of service organizations using them today. High-performing service organizations are 2.1x more likely than underperformers to use AI chatbots.
Service-based AI solutions and chatbots are expected to rise by 241% in the coming years. Salesforce Research’s “State of Service” report, is the result of a survey of 3,500 customer service agents and decision makers worldwide used to determine:
Within the next 18 months, it’s anticipated that 53% of service organizations expect to use AI chatbots – This is a 136% growth rate that gives us a glimpse into the near future. AI chatbots reduce manual workloads for agents.
The survey was conducted from November 27 through December 15, 2018, and generated 3,525 responses from full-time customer service agents and decision makers in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Europe. All respondents were third-party panelists (not limited to Salesforce customers).
Seventy percent of customer service agents believe automating routine tasks would allow them to focus on higher value work.
More than half (56%) of service organizations are investigating ways to use artificial intelligence (AI), a set of technologies that perform tasks that typically require human interaction as a potential solution. However, only 24% of organizations use AI. But this is projected to surge by 143% over the next 18 months.
Even though more hotels are using bots for customer service, this doesn’t mean that their outcomes are better. This is evident in that 57% of consumers said they find human customer service agents to be more effective when handling their needs and solving their problems.
While chatbots promise to end the problem of getting stuck in a hotel call center’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, we all now have the annoyance of circuitous conversations with rules-based bots that aren’t always equipped to handle our problems. And, if you get stuck in one of these, what will you do? Hang up the phone and go to another hotel. (At least that’s what I’d do.)
The problem with AI is in the way that it’s applied. Some think that chatbots and automated service are the answer that will give their hotel the edge. What they’re overlooking is that their customers want convenience and speed, but they also want that hospitable engagement with humans.
The answer is to use a combination of Artificial Intelligence and humans. Organizations that replace the human element with AI will only alienate their customers. When this happens, their bottom line can be negatively affected.
Hotels are looking at a combination of AI to quickly handle more straightforward requests and needs. And they are routing more complex issues to customer service agents who are trained to apply a more personalized and empathetic approach to solving problems.
Hotels, resorts and conference centers must accommodate more advanced technologies that best serve both consumers and businesses. Your guests are coming to your establishment with their laptops, smartphones, and tablets and they no longer view Wi-Fi as a perk. They want to be able to connect seamlessly and securely without interruptions.
They also expect fast and expedient service from your staff. Without efficient, up-to-date and properly integrated IT solutions, you can’t provide what your guests expect.
Technology infiltrates nearly every aspect of hospitality service. Hotels are moving away from pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi services and including them gratis. They’re installing high-density wireless connectivity because their guests have come to expect it, especially for conferences and meetings. If your patrons can’t connect to the Internet seamlessly without interruption, and at the speed they’re used to, you’ll lose them to the competition.
Along with this, more hotels, resorts, and conference centers are providing inbuilding mobile phone coverage. With patrons using their phones for calls, texting and accessing services on the Web, you need the reliability, speed, and IT security to keep them connected.
Besides offering high-density Wi-Fi for conferences and meetings, you must also provide access to audiovisual solutions and digital facilities. Savvy patrons today want to do things like check in at an automated kiosk, order room service using digital devices, and use their tablets and smartphones to connect to their business systems securely to get access to their confidential work files.
With Near Field Communication (NFC) technology users can exchange data between devices. This makes mobile payments possible by merely touching a credit card to a smartphone for an instant and secure process. It’s being used for self-check-ins, smart-room keys and more. This “opens the doors” for more expedient, personalized services for your guests.
Converged LANs (Local Area Networks) are being used to support multiple services and create “intelligent buildings.” They’re used to control lighting, air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration. This saves money by reducing energy consumption.
If a hotel guest wants a room temperature of 68°F with the lights dimmed to 75%, this can all be pre-programmed in advance. This may sound like something from the future, but it’s being used today and will be an expected standard in years to come.
Network design is a critical element to ensure all of this works as it should. A properly designed and implemented network ensures indoor mobile phone coverage, Wi-Fi connectivity, IP television service, and, for your establishment’s effective communications, VoIP services.
Hotels and hospitality services want to be able to offer digital content but without the considerable investment in IT infrastructure. Cloud computing is the ideal solution in this respect. There’s no substantial initial capital investment and it provides the flexibility to scale services up or down as seasonal demands change, or business grows.
Using cloud services also removes administrative burdens of managing IT needs in-house. The Cloud is now the norm and will continue to be used to replace legacy IT systems for administrative and management needs.
Today’s hotel patrons don’t just expect faster service, they demand it. They’re accustomed to getting immediate service from online sites like Amazon. These companies have reset the bar for what customers expect.
So, the best way to satisfy your patrons while meeting your bottom line is to use a combination of AI, up-to-date technologies, and professionals who are trained to provide top-level services. Ensure your hotel establishment is up-to-speed with technology today, so you’ll be ready to meet your guests demands tomorrow.
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