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Digital engagement in travel and hospitality

Communication and Omnichannel Interactions Are Key CX Areas for Travel Companies

Research from Verint and Emplifi Demonstrates Importance of Digital Communication and Social Media Channels

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In the Dash Research report, CX in the Travel & Hospitality Industry, two of the key market drivers examined are:

  1. The demand for omnichannel interactions and self-service along the various touchpoints
  2. Increased communication needs

According to the report, the move toward digital has resulted in travel companies needing to quickly address both issues. The nature of travel itself is, of course, being in movement, and there is an increasing amount of CX-related traffic on mobile apps and devices. Travelers could encounter friction along many different touchpoints and in many different locations. Travel & Hospitality companies need to be adept at offering omnichannel solutions and at making the movement between channels seamless. A customer service voice call might be disconnected while walking through an airport, and the traveler needs to turn to messaging. An incoming hotel guest may want further information on their room, need to make a reservation at a restaurant, or request an amenity upon arrival. A website, a mobile app, messaging, social media, or a voice channel could all be used at certain points.

Omnichannel Interactions Along the Customer Journey

(Source: Dash Research)

Travelers are also needing increased communications. More than ever before, travelers need reassurance and information during their journey. Likewise, companies in the industry need to keep their customers and guests informed of ever-changing travel conditions, hygiene and social distancing practices, and travel restrictions. To complicate matters, a customer journey during travel can be a disparate and non-linear meandering process through digital, voice, and in-person touchpoints. CX technologies are a solution to this problem.

Recent research from Verint and Emplifi touches on these two drivers, with focus on the airline industry, in particular. Verint’s research demonstrates the exponential increase in communication via digital channels, and Emplifi data points to the importance of social media.

According to Verint’s Guide to Digital-First Engagement for the Airline Industry, customer communication has been challenging, with a 300% increase in monthly conversations, even with global flight loads at only one-fifth of pre-pandemic volume. This is due to many of the friction points travelers are now experiencing such as flight cancellations, refunds, and credit and voucher requests. The research also points to a big channel shift that took place over the pandemic as consumer preference moved toward the use of third-party messaging services, such as Apple Business Chat, Twitter, WhatsApp, and others. Verint expects there to be a 15x increase in customer conversations occurring over private messaging channels when passenger numbers go back to pre-pandemic levels.

“A digital-first engagement strategy ensures that regardless of customer demand, brands can provide a superior customer experience across the channels customers want to use most,” says Verint’s Heather Richards, vice president, go-to-market strategy. “Intelligent automation helps to scale responses, so that brands are able to meet or exceed customer expectations.”

Emplifi shared a benchmark analysis of how industries are using social media for customer care. According to its data, the airline industry is second only to telecom in terms of providing social media responses. However, there is much room for improvement with a significant 76% of airline customer questions going unanswered on Twitter from January 1, 2022 to April 28, 2022. The response rate for social media complaints was even worse, with 85% of tweets going unanswered during the same period. According to Emplifi, most consumers rate 24/7 customer service availability and quick response times as the top two factors for driving positive brand perceptions. “While brands now understand the importance of good customer service, they still have the challenge of keeping up with how quickly customer expectations are evolving. It’s so important to constantly evaluate and adjust their CX strategy to align with the customer’s view of outstanding service,” says Emplifi CXO Shellie Vornhagen.

The return to travel will continue to be bumpy but leveraging CX technologies that meet consumers where they are and, in the channel and format they want to communicate in, will help smooth out some of the rough edges of the experience.

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