This article was posted on Travolution
How AI will shape the future of travel contact centres: Interview with Jason Roos
With rapid development in AI, businesses are looking at the impact AI could have in their industry. AI tools have seen a huge increase in use for personal and professional tasks, with ChatGPT achieving over 1 million users just five days after launch and developing professional tools for every industry. With this new focus on AI technology, the potential for changes in how we work is only just being realised, especially in customer-facing industries such as travel and tourism. We spoke with Jason Roos, CEO of cloud-based software company Cirrus, to get his expert insights on how AI is going to affect the future of travel contact centres.
“AI is one of the most significant changes to the travel industry in years, and adopting it now can help companies stay ahead of their competitors by offering customers personalised assistance, faster support, and more.” Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus
1. How do you envision AI transforming the operations of travel contact centres in the near future?
AI will revolutionise travel contact centres by automating routine tasks and providing intelligent automation for instant customer support. Nearly 40% of travel industry customers say they’d prefer to deal with AI to assist with travel plans, which can help travel contact centres reduce staff costs while attracting more customers. AI can also more easily track customer preferences to make personalised recommendations, as well as make interactions across multiple channels easier and smoother.
2. What specific challenges do you believe AI can address within the travel industry’s contact centres?
One of the biggest problems in travel contact centres is high call volumes and long wait times, with 59% of contact centres saying that call volumes are growing beyond their ability to process them. AI can address this, acting as a first point of contact for customers. For routine inquiries, AI can help provide accurate and timely information to customers, improve overall customer satisfaction by delivering personalised and efficient services, and also support employees to handle more customers with less stress.
3. Can you provide examples of how AI technologies have already improved customer experiences in travel contact centres?
AI technologies have improved customer experiences by offering virtual assistants for support at any time of day, which is vital since around half of customers expect a travel business to be available 24/7. This AI support can be very accurate thanks to natural language processing, which helps it understand and respond to customer queries in real-time. AI can also implement intelligent routing systems to connect customers with the most appropriate agents during full-service hours. AI is one of the most significant changes to the travel industry in years, and adopting it now can help companies stay ahead of their competitors by offering customers personalised assistance, faster support, and more.
4. How does Cirrus’s contact centre solution leverage AI to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of travel-related customer interactions?
Cirrus’s contact centre solution utilises AI to automate repetitive tasks, route inquiries to the most suitable agents, provide real-time insights to help agents to offer personalised experiences, and enable self-service options through conversational AI, resulting in improved efficiency and customer satisfaction. Our AI-powered solutions focus on productivity, as well as making it easier and less stressful for customer service agents to assist customers.
5. Are there any ethical considerations that travel contact centres should keep in mind when implementing AI technologies? How does Cirrus address these concerns?
Ethical considerations with AI use include data privacy, transparency in AI decision-making, and ensuring AI systems do not perpetuate biases. All of these are concerns for users, who want to know that their data and information is safe, as well as knowing that any information an AI system gives them is accurate and fair, with no unexplained decision-making. With many customers trusting travel agencies with their personal information, Cirrus prioritises data security, making sure that all AI solutions follow strict GDPR guidelines. We also focus on transparency in AI algorithms, and we are always happy to explain our processes and stand by them. These AI solutions are also continuously monitored to address any biases or unintended consequences from the data sets that they work from.
6. What impact do you anticipate AI will have on the roles and responsibilities of customer service agents within travel contact centres?
“AI will also give agents the information they need, at a glance, to support customers, helping customer service agents be more efficient.”
AI will augment customer service agents by handling routine inquiries and tasks, allowing agents to focus on more complex and specialised customer needs. This will lessen the pressure of answering many customer inquiries at once. AI will also give agents the information they need, at a glance, to support customers, helping customer service agents be more efficient. In addition to this, agents will evolve to become experts who can assist with more complex needs. They can also operate as brand ambassadors and relationship managers, providing higher-value assistance and empathy to customers. While there is concern that AI could lead to job losses, it seems likely that we’ll see more job advancement and changes, with customer service agents focusing their energy on different roles and tasks.
7. How does AI enable personalisation and customisation in travel contact centre interactions? Can you share any success stories or case studies?
When customers use an AI-powered travel solution, it can easily track and analyse customer data, preferences, and past interactions. All of this helps you deliver tailored recommendations and offers, without customer service agents having to research what is appropriate for the customer. For example, AI-powered chatbots can suggest personalised travel itineraries based on customer preferences, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and increased conversions, with over 90% of travel customers happy to spend more for personalised assistance and experiences.
8. What are the key metrics and indicators that travel contact centres should track to measure the success and ROI of AI implementations?
Key metrics include customer satisfaction scores, reduction in average handling time, first contact resolution rates, customer retention rates, and cost savings achieved through AI automation. These metrics all reflect the improved customer experience and operational efficiency driven by AI. While there is significant potential for cost-saving, this should be measured carefully against customer satisfaction scores and retention rates. It’s important to balance these to ensure that you meet internal customer satisfaction goals.
9. What steps can travel contact centres take to ensure a smooth integration of AI technologies into their existing infrastructure and workflows?
Travel contact centres should start with a comprehensive assessment of their existing processes. This will let you identify areas where AI can add value. Once you know where to add AI, it’s important to develop a phased implementation plan. This should include proper training for all customer service agents and supervisors to minimise user errors and issues. You also need to plan seamless integration with existing systems with AI experts, and regularly monitor and refine AI solutions to make sure that they meet the specific needs of your travel company. No two companies have the exact same needs, so a tailored approach is vital.
10. Looking ahead, what future advancements in AI do you foresee having the greatest impact on travel contact centres, and how is Cirrus preparing for them?
Future advancements in AI, such as natural language understanding and generation, sentiment analysis, and emotion detection, will have a significant impact on travel contact centres by making AI solutions even better at understanding what customers need. This will improve the success of AI-powered solutions. Cirrus is actively researching and developing these technologies to enhance our contact centre solutions, enabling more human-like interactions and deeper customer insights.
With AI becoming more and more common in the workplace, it’s vital to look at how AI-powered solutions will change travel contact centres in the future. Generally, AI will bring greater productivity and higher customer satisfaction to companies, as customers expect 24/7 AI support from organisations they deal with. Additionally, it’s crucial to carefully monitor ethical concerns regarding AI, such as bias and privacy. It’s also incredibly important to ensure a smooth transition to using AI in your business as this will directly affect how successful AI is in helping your company save money and improve customer support.