Ways Babble and Five9 can help the travel industry be best prepared
The travel sector was one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic. Now travel companies must re-connect with their customer base and prepare for a predicted surge in demand Luckily, Five9 and Babble are here to get the wheels of recovery in motion so companies can be ready when contact centre volumes spike.
In this exclusive interview with Mark Jordan, Managing Director of Five9’s partner, Babble Cloud, we reveal the essential changes the travel industry must make in order to grapple with the surge in demand and how Five9 can help companies reimagine their CX with delivery speed, personalisation and managing remote live agents too.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of agility, practically overnight, when companies scrambled to get their agents set up from their homes. Those fast to act, and empower their agents to drive results from anywhere, were the winners in the race, while those slower to do so missed opportunities. It’s now vital that agents in the travel sector are quick off the mark to deliver CX at scale to meet the expected surge in business with minimal disruption. The key to achieving this is through the cloud. Companies at the leading stage of the Five9 CX Maturity Model, an assessment and framework designed to guide businesses on their digital transformation journeys, are well into their adoption of cloud-based technologies for the contact centre.
Five9’s intelligent cloud contact centre is integrated with key operational systems such as a company’s CRM and UC software. Users also need to be connected to various applications for marketing, sales, finance, IT, and workforce optimisation.
“The concept of being able to scale your workforce up and down quickly and efficiently, whilst also being able to maintain business standards is going to be fundamentally important – essentially, businesses must reimagine how they work and ensure they deploy the correct technology to support this shift,” Jordan says.
“As workforces have moved away from traditional office spaces, there’s now lots of different systems in place that we must interact with, meaning successful system integration will now be key when moving forward. Enabling those to talk to each other clearly and efficiently is crucial in terms of making sure that the data integrity is there, as well as allowing the travel sector to learn as much as possible about customers and internal employees too.”
“I believe a complete recovery for the travel and tourism industry is going to take some time and we’ll see some areas of airline travel bounce back really quickly and others taking much longer, but failure to ensure that businesses aren’t at the forefront of technology and they’ll face the risk of falling behind competitors,” Jordan says.
This was always going to be expected. It’s been widely reported that the hospitality industry and travel sector were rocked when the pandemic surfaced, with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC) reporting the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to cost the tourism industry almost £16billion and a loss of almost 50 million jobs worldwide. This huge gaping hole in the economy will of course be filled when bans for non-essential travel is lifted, but it will take some time. But the big question is how on earth will travel operators have the speed to cope with the staggering surge in demand?
Five9’s workforce optimisation solution helps travel companies forecast demand and accurately schedule and track real-time adherence, meaning they’re with their customers every step of the way. Balance will be everything to a travel sector agent, which is why the solution helps businesses juggle customer satisfaction and CX efficiency. Workforce optimisation tools help service leaders accurately align their resources with contact centre volumes, enabling them to retain customer satisfaction through using agents with the right skills.
Jordan says: “Loading agents up with a database of customer information and having that at their fingertips when customers call, or with AI already being able to predict and recommend travel experiences based on history and profile, will be core elements every travel-related company need to provide to their customers. The alternative? Customers will simply go elsewhere.”
Jordan says that now more than ever, customers are craving human interaction and live agents – happier in their roles now – are able to provide that through the use of cloud-based technologies. And thanks to Five9, travellers can get the personalised experience they want while live agents continue to work safely in remote environments. Five9 offers video for a virtual face-to-face service that customers would get with a travel agent, but right from the comfort of their own home. This ensures consistency, quality and continuity when it comes to the delivery of CX.
Now, more than ever, the customer journey has got to be followed intently. Fliers are flirting with the idea of travel and flocking online to consistently check for travel updates. But what’s missing is peace of mind. Customers fear they could book a holiday to a location that in a matter of days could be on the red list. FIve9 has a solution for this through customer journey mapping tools featured in their cloud contact centre. The product can help live agents power more personalised interactions using real-time data. Workflow automation enables the travel sector to go beyond now-dated CX experiences by delivering customer notifications and personalised follow-ups while allowing travel organisations to be more available than ever before. In a nutshell, it’s the solution travel customers are crying out for.
Jordan explains: “Safety will be key, with people picking travel destinations based on whether they are safe locations to visit, whether that’s because of existing COVID rates or just in general.
“And a resurgence of a kind of specialist travel will come out of that. As a population, people like experiences, and being unable to do that at the moment really reinforces just how much as a human race we like to travel, move around and like to experience new things.”
Jordan also explains that lockdowns have had such an effect on customers that the average holiday-maker will seek outa more emotive experience when abroad, as opposed to a week laying in the sunshine.
“Booking a holiday will no longer be a transactional exchange. Longer conversations are also important in the booking process, so customers are able to share their concerns over travelling and engage with the very best live agent who is knowledgeable in that area. If I was to book a holiday to somewhere really special, I’d want to talk to somebody who understands the region and can talk about different things that I could do while I was on holiday, places to see and excursions. To do that, customers need to connect with an actual human being now and an efficient contact centre helps to improve that level of customer engagement.”
This is why companies must also take this opportunity to get to know their customers all over again. The pandemic has shifted consumerism behaviours so vastly. In fact, it forced 10 years of behavioural change to take place in just 12 months. Five9 can help with this by providing contact centre live agents with solutions that deliver personalised omni-channel engagement along with remote workforce optimisation and innovative uses of AI and workflow automation, all found in the cloud. Added to that, the solution offers companies pre-built integrations to a company’s CRM and other key systems to provide real customer context. This is travel CX reimagined.
To summarise, preparation is key when it comes to the travel sector bouncing back, but the longer families are in lockdown the bigger the guessing game becomes on how vast and wide their holiday experiences will be when flying restrictions lift. But with the help of Five9 solutions and their reseller of the year, Babble, travel companies can be one-step ahead of the game, and better protected for whatever the future holds.
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