Customers of today are not what they used to be a few years back. Gone are the days when they would visit a physical office to get their air tickets and hotel stays booked or get their itineraries planned by travel agencies or visit a physical store to purchase products. The connected consumer of today is tech-savvy, looking for real time information and is very much aware of current trends, thanks to the internet.
With technological advancements, decision making has also changed. With many companies offering comparable deals, and various types of offers catching a trend, consumers today have numerous options to choose from.
Gartner report predicts that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without humans by 2021.
The travel and retail industry is getting better with the application of technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning). Conversational automation is one such technology that is gaining momentum by creating simulating human-like conversation through chatbots and voicebots. Chatbots are computer softwares that act like virtual text assistants to communicate with users using text messages. They are intelligent and can comprehend even vague queries submitted by users like ‘Australia hiking places’ or ‘Red shoes online’. They can be integrated in websites and mobile applications to help automated regular tasks and maintain customer service standards. Through their customer oriented communication, chatbots are transforming the travel and retail industry by connecting with users on a personal level.
Let’s look at some areas where chatbots are helping transform the customer experience
From suggesting destinations to recommending closest airports, chatbots have become the go-to personalized assistants for many travelers. Instead of making innumerable calls and emails, customers can use the efficiency and swift response time that chatbots offer in making the right travel choices based on nuances of human dialogue, preferences and budgets. Furthermore, they can send out alerts about any delays in flights or cancellations and offer features in line with the company’s travel policy.
Ease of ordering online
As per Hubspot, 47% of consumers would not only prefer to receive recommendations through chatbots but also be willing to make purchases through them. While having a personalized offer is what consumers look for, chatbots also offer guidance in an online ordering process. In comparison to a physical store, the attention span of online shoppers decreases significantly, which is where chatbots offer an advantage by providing instant ordering assistance.
Chatbots are not just meant to act like human representatives, they are there to give a holistic solution to the customer. While they are known to provide pre-travel or purchase assistance, they are also extremely useful in post-sales services like collecting feedback from users or asking them to leave reviews. They can automatically send reminders to customers to share feedback of their online experience in the form of ratings and reviews. In the process, if the user is unhappy with the service, it can address the grievance right there and address the issue in the moment.
As per Global Market Insights, the overall market size for chatbots worldwide would be over $1.3 billion by 2024.
Chatbots are conversation tools that have been made to assist customers by understanding their requirements in the broadest possible sense. The digital revolution has broadened the internet user base including large number of non-English speakers. While many of us are used to speaking in English, we feel more at ease when we speak in our native language. Chatbots can be designed to be multi-lingual, which means, you can reach audiences in other countries and offer assistance in their language. Chatbots are anyway able to handle a large number of queries; with multi-lingual assistance, the bots would be able to handle specific and large number of queries efficiently and increase presence in high demand regional markets.
According to a Chatbot Customer Service Study by Invesp, 64% of internet users say 24-hour service is the best feature of chatbots.
Chatbots can analyze a customer’s intent through their tone, choice of words, the pages visited on a website and the journey made on apps. Chatbots can meet the needs of a customer by keeping them engaged, providing high-quality experience and meeting their needs. They can encourage direct bookings and fully support the booking journeys. Based on past travel data, they can also up sell and cross sell by delivering the messages in a natural manner which would appeal the user. Similarly, in retail, chatbots can customize products based on their browsing history and products placed in their shopping cart. With a fast response rate, they can assist several customers at the same time, with tailored offers and 24X7 support which would contribute to the productivity and financial results of a company.
According to a study by Chatbots Life, the top 5 industries profiting from the incorporation of chatbots are real estate (28%), travel (16%), education (14%), healthcare (10%), and finance (5%). Another study by eCommerce chatbot statistics states that over 70% of chatbots accessed will be retail-based by 2023.
It is highly likely that chatbot technology will be a preferred choice for many travel and retail brands as it will continue to improve customer experience and cost efficiency. IGT has helped several clients receive positive results with its conversational automation solutions. By using cognitive services like Natural Language Processing (NLP), Speech-to-Text, Text-to-Speech and Sentiment Analysis from industry partners like Miscrosft LUIS, IBM Watson and Google Dialog Flow, we have enabled our clients transform their customer service experiences. Our engagement models are flexible and can be customized to suit specific needs of the customer.
You can read more about our chatbot service here: https://www.igtsolutions.com/services/automation/conversational-automation/
Gurmeet Oberoi is a researcher and writer of change tactics and technologies in travel and other verticals, she frequently posts across the digital ecosystem. With 9-yrs of experience in communications and marketing, Gurmeet has a passion for travel and reading among other things. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org