As countries around the world begin to welcome back travelers, having a modern global communications platform that can scale as your company and offerings grow is critical.
In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, a travel boom is looming and a new age of travel may be upon us. In this recent article, McKinsey projects two trajectories of how travel will likely bounce back, however they say “companies that don’t prepare themselves for the forthcoming influx of travelers risk missing out on valuable opportunities to recoup losses incurred during the height of the pandemic.”
In this article, we will explore the role of interactive voice response software (IVR) in Travel & Hospitality and its solutions that can help prepare you for building capacity, embracing digital innovation, and increasing customer experience.
What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?
Interactive voice response, or IVR, is an automated business phone system feature that routes your guests to a wealth of helpful information by interactively gathering caller information through menu choices, telephone keypad entries, or voice response.
If set up correctly, your IVR software will elevate the customer experience, empowering them to get answers to travel and booking questions with ease. Inquiries include:
- Make, adjust, or cancel reservations
- Make billing changes
- Update lodging preferences
- Provide feedback
- Speak with customer service, and much more.
The beauty of IVR is that it can be customized to the needs of your customers, ensuring their questions are met with clear call flows your team creates, manages, and modifies from an interactive online interface.
IVR Benefits for the Travel & Hospitality Industry
IVR software provides a wealth of benefits for the travel & hospitality industry. Managed in the cloud, AVOXI’s hosted IVR solution saves your team’s time, lowers business costs, and leads to better customer satisfaction rates.
1. Save Time for Agents and Your Guests with IVR Routing
With both international and domestic travel on the rise, it’s time to ensure your company is providing a premium customer experience in every step of their travel journey with an intuitive, well-organized IVR system.
With leading IVR providers, you will have the capability to:
- Create multi-level, unlimited menus
- Route calls to groups, queues, users, voicemail, or external numbers
- Personalize greetings
- Measure impact through actionable data
In turn, this will help increase agent efficiencies, while improving your call center customer experience (CX) metrics by reducing the number of call transfers, improving self-service, and prioritizing your company’s high value customers.
2. Level Up Your Customer Experience
According to a recent McKinsey report, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
One way to incorporate personalization into your strategy to increase call center customer experience (CX) metrics is to create customized greetings and menus for your IVR system. By doing so, this will help your company establish and deliver a catered experience for your guests.
With COVID-19 and the surge in digital behaviors raising the bar, personalization matters more than ever. In fact, McKinsey states, “Personalization drives performance and better customer outcomes. Companies that grow faster drive 40% more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.” The closer you are to the consumer, the better.
3. More Control Than Ever Before
In addition to unlimited menus, personalized greetings, and custom routing, IVR will also provide more control over your coverage than ever before.
Use your IVR internationally to route your inbound and outbound phone calls to over 170 countries in the world. This creates outbound efficiencies allowing your teams to:
- Run follow-ups to confirm upcoming travel
- Update flight delays/cancellations
- Update room information
- Collect customer feedback
- And, up-sell opportunities for add-on experiences or activities
In addition to expanded coverage, you can also leverage unified communications across social media or website chat with IVR by integrating your CRM, Helpdesk, or chat.
By integrating your IVR solution with your tech stack, it gives travelers the ability to book or talk to agents even faster. And, it streamlines your agents’ customer conversations, giving them easy access to customer details virtually.
With more coverage and the ease to integrate your systems to provide live chat, guests will benefit from a well-designed omnichannel IVR solution creating seamless transfer of information between channels while maintaining the continuity of conversations.
4. Leverage IVR Reporting to Deliver 5-Star Guest Experience
Curious to see how callers are navigating through your call flows and menus?
With the latest reporting capabilities, you can easily analyze the call prompts getting the highest traffic, identify potential loops in your IVR, and locate where the highest call abandon rates are happening. The IVR reporting dashboard is essential for business growth and ensuring your travel and hospitality callers are able to connect with the right person the first time.
Without one in place, you could potentially be putting your customer experience at risk. A holistic view of your IVR setup can assist in call strategy optimization and help to deliver a better customer experience to all who call into your brand’s service hotline.
IVR Challenges for the Travel & Hospitality Industry
With any solution, there will inevitably be challenges. Here are the top challenges the travel and hospitality industry face with IVR:
1. Scalability to Support High Volume
With the looming travel boom and changing pandemic restrictions, travel and hospitality companies always need to be one step ahead. This means that having the correct infrastructure in place to support higher call volumes is table-stakes to compete competitively in the travel and hospitality industry.
Therefore, having an IVR infrastructure that can support call volumes, inbound routing, outbound routing with efficiency, omnichannel, and continual availability is key to establish customer satisfaction and loyalty.
2. Inefficient Call Flows
Customer experience is paramount with travelers and guests, and solving their needs effectively will dramatically influence their satisfaction and loyalty. However, many companies deploy inefficient IVR call flows that are cumbersome, confusing, and aren’t as helpful as they should be for their customers.
Therefore, your IVR solution should give your callers a better experience by reducing the number of call transfers, allowing them to use self-service options, and deploying well-organized IVR to prioritize your high-value customers.
But how do you know if your IVR is being helpful or hurtful? Well, as the great Peter Drucker once said, “You can’t measure what you don’t track.” So keeping tabs on call center key performance indicators (KPIs) such as call containment, misrouted, and first call resolution (FCR) will help you determine if your IVR is getting your customers to the right place, in a timely manner. You may also want to add a customer satisfaction survey to the end of your call to get real-time customer feedback about their experience.
3. Legacy Infrastructure with Limited Tech Integrations & Costly Maintenance Needs
One of the biggest IVR drawbacks many travel and hospitality companies face that holds their customer experience back is legacy infrastructure, which increases overall business costs and leads to wasted time from your team.
Your IVR is one of the most critical touch points your company will have with your guests. By utilizing a customized, cloud-based IVR solution, you are able to:
- Seamlessly integrate with multiple technology vendors, allowing your customers to self-serve across multiple platforms (phone and chat)
- Increase your country coverage
- Provide a local brand presence with custom external numbers
- Create multi-level IVR menus, call flow, and inbound routers to support all call needs
- Monitor call flow effectiveness with state-of-the-art reporting and analytic dashboards
By investing in a scalable IVR infrastructure built for modern travelers and guests, your company will be better positioned to improve travel metrics, such as increase profitability and increase customer satisfaction rates.
Costs Associated with IVR
In order to understand what kind of IVR is the best for your business, you will need to evaluate the different IVR system options – on-premise and cloud systems. On-premise systems require hardware to be stored within your business. This method requires expensive and bulky equipment and on-going IT support.
Cloud systems, however, are managed off-site by your cloud-service provider. Having your IVR hosted in the cloud comes with a wide range of benefits for your company, they are:
- Cost effective as an upfront investment in equipment and ongoing IT support is not required
- Fast and easy to set up
- Flexible and growth with your company
- Provide you much more features for a more affordable cost than an on-premise system
If you haven’t made the switch to the cloud, here are 11 reasons why you should.
Many providers offer IVR capabilities as part of their virtual number plans, while others charge by the minute or call handled via the IVR. However, you may need to buy a more advanced plan to access the IVR features. As you evaluate, be cautious as costs increase with plans that charge by the minute.
While evaluating cost, also take into consideration your total cost of ownership (TCO) with your current or future solution. For instance, with on premise solutions, you could sign yourself up to heavy infrastructure costs and unnecessary fees often incurred from local telcos and multi-site complexities.
For the most cost effective strategy, look for a leading provider that can combine bundled, volume-based packages to reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) while increasing ROI with no-term contracts to meet your scalability needs.
Selecting the Right IVR For Your Travel and Hospitality Business
With customer experience being paramount in the travel and hospitality industry, IVR is one of the most critical touch points your company will have with your guests. Your overall effectiveness to drive a streamlined, scalable, and personalized experience to solve your guests needs will have a massive impact on your business’s overall profitability and customer loyalty.
Modernizing your IVR infrastructure with a reputable, long-standing solution with expertise in the travel and hospitality industry will be crucial in today’s rapidly-evolving tourism ecosystem.
According to Captera, AVOXI is best for travel and hospitality organizations. In addition to our advanced IVR solutions, we make it easy to set up your virtual phone numbers at no extra cost and give you access to 170+ countries.