Imagine you’re planning a vacation for your family. You’ve spent a generous amount of time researching destinations, booking flights, securing a car rental, and finally, the hotel.
After thoroughly researching all of your options, you settled on a property and pick up the phone. After a few rings, you hear a voice on the other end of the line, and you immediately tense up—a voice bot. What could have been a quick and painless phone call turns into a one-sided conversation that seems to take you in circles until finally, you’re able to talk to a human on the other end of the line.
In 2021, customers value a personal connection, but the convenience of a voice bot is hard to beat for some businesses that just don’t have the manpower to handle their current call volume. Is there a better solution for voice bots? To fully understand how Artificial Intelligence can fit into the hospitality industry, we must first understand how it has failed us thus far.
What are voice bots? Voice bots are software used in call centers of large companies to help customers navigate to their desired representative more naturally than a voice recording with keyed responses. Voice bots are powered by artificial intelligence and are known as Interactive Voice Response Systems or IVR for short. What’s wrong with current voice bots? Despite vast improvements in technology from the previous iterations of IVR that had customers listen to menus and press corresponding numbers on their keypads, the majority of consumers still seek to avoid voice bots whenever possible.
IVR systems seemingly appeared overnight and forced customers into a loop of long wait times and incoherent call and answer scenarios. However, IVR systems are widely used by industries across the globe to help companies cope with massive call volumes. It doesn’t take an industry expert to point out what’s wrong with current IVR systems.
Long menus and rigid redirecting Because IVR systems can’t differentiate between types of calls, customers are forced into a cycle of repeating menus to help narrow down their reason for calling. This is an incredibly frustrating situation to be in for any customer, but older customers find it especially difficult to follow.
IVR Systems can’t create or understand context Unlike humans, IVR systems cannot provide a personalized call experience. Completely unaware of customers’ purchasing history, previous needs, or customer journey, callers are all forced to jump through the same hoops, again and again, each time they call.
IVR Systems Can’t Collect and Store Data IVR systems can only collect and store a limited amount of data, so returning callers will not have their progress saved. Additionally, the failure of IVR systems to collect data cripples a company’s ability to make data-driven decisions based on their customers’ call experiences.
What are the consequences of voice bot dependence? According to Vonage, an industry leader in cloud communication, 61% of customers feel that IVRs make for a poor experience. Additionally, the State of IVR in 2018 asserts that 83% of customers have abandoned a company altogether after reaching an IVR’s menu of options. Customer service experts have since identified the error of mass implementation of IVR.
The last year and a half put IVR systems to the ultimate stress test, especially in the travel industry. When flights are canceled in mass, call volumes for airlines surge, and it’s clear that IVR systems are hurting the customer experience rather than simplifying it.
Where do we go from here?
It’s 2021, automated customer service experiences don’t have to be so painstakingly miserable. Many corporations need some type of automated system to help process and sort callers. An investment in technology to create a customer-focused, alternative intelligence-powered voice bot is a feasible solution.
A voice bot with a focus on increasing response time, decreasing total call time, and quickly redirecting callers with an added component of a humanlike interaction is now a reality. Keep your eye out for our next story when we introduce Bella™, The Virtual Hotel Agent™.