Holidaying in the Cloud
By Vijay Venugopalan April 6, 2017
- Most Singaporeans will be more loyal to organisations that make the customer service experience more seamless, less painful and hassle-free
- Whilst quality customer service from a contact centre is key, it is also important to remember that not every query will need a live-agent response
As the Easter and March school holidays fast approaches, it is that time of year again when hospitality industry players are finding themselves struggling with the seasonal traffic surge caused by travellers desperate to check out and pay for their holiday deals. During similar peak seasons last year, the number of calls carried to BT’s customer contact centres via our global inbound platform leaped by more than a third compared to the year before.
The stakes are high. Contact centres at ecommerce & logistics, travel agencies, airlines and other hospitality players are likely to be overwhelmed at peak periods, resulting in poor customer service, which could end up putting customers off the brand for good. Most Singaporeans (89%) will be more loyal to organisations that make the customer service experience more seamless, less painful and hassle-free, according to BT’s study, Autonomous Customer: On Hold for Intelligent Customer Service.
The good news is that with a cloud-based contact centre, companies can immediately scale up their capacity to handle the sudden spike in inbound contacts, paying only for what is used. Calls can be moved quickly between agents so that customers deal with the right person to resolve their query. Not only does this reduce the number of repeat calls that a service or product brand receives, it also makes the most of the expertise that exists within their organisation. Adding people from across the business into a contact centre as temporary agents during peak times is simple. Most importantly, they can field queries from anywhere and on any device.
Spread the load, Spread the cheer
When hoteliers, airlines, travel agencies anticipate a busy period coming up, the best action is to make the most of all channels of communication available. There are plenty of technological alternatives to phone calls and BT’s recent Youbiquity Finance survey found that consumers are willing to use them.
Today’s digital customers check social media for the latest information about what travel bargains, hotel stays and services are on offer and how to get them. Sharing new deals, promotional codes or revised opening times online is an easy way to keep customers happy and out of the contact centre queue. Thus, customer-facing frontline staff need to be primed to deal with a barrage of questions and messages via social media.
Help customers help themselves
Whilst quality customer service from a contact centre is key, it is also important to remember that not every query will need a live-agent response. Offering an effective self-service solution as a first point of contact will filter a significant chunk of traffic away from agents and allow for faster, more effective service for customers with simple or routine enquiries.
By going beyond just confirming availability of spaces on a tour or flight dates, the right self-service application can complete entire transactions without any agent input. Moreover, when volumes are in danger of overloading your system, there is always the option of diverting call traffic onto alternative servers.
What if the worst happens?
Let’s say a hotelier’s website collapses under the weight of Easter traffic. Or maybe hackers launch a “DDoS” attack, during which they overwhelm and knock the website offline. Customers will be extremely anxious and frustrated and will want help immediately.
In times of crisis, people look for the reassurance of a human voice, so they will reach first for the phone and then try social media, email or web or video chat. They may even turn up at stores so sales assistants need to be prepared as well.
The holiday season is an immovable deadline. Fail a customer now, and they will never forgive you. But if a service provider has implemented a thorough and comprehensive strategy ahead of the season’s peaks, their contact centre can provide a level of service above and beyond what many customers will be expecting.
Cloud-based contact centres help streamline service, improve resilience, correctly direct enquiries and ensure customers are not left waiting on the line — all of which will bring about happy holidays for the hospitality industry and travellers alike.
Vijay Venugopalan is the head of BT Contact and BT One (APAC, ME and Africa)