Expert Panel: Trends in Conversational Commerce, VPAs & Chatbots

[24]7.ai | April 17, 2019

An upscale hotel lobby is a warm and inviting place. Comfortable seating, helpful attendants, and personalized service are among the key attributes. Have you taken a moment to consider why that is? In the hotel business, your arrival is one of the most important parts of the stay and is a major contributor to the likelihood you’ll come back. After a long day of travel, an easy check-in with a friendly face can make a world of difference to the customer experience.

In episode 8 of Solving for CX, Daniel Hong of Forrester Research, Micah Solomon, award-winning CX specialist, and Mitch Lieberman of Conversational X, join us to discuss trends in conversational commerce, virtual personal assistants (VPAs), and chatbots.

Industry Trends

The customer experience in a hotel lobby is not unlike your customer’s experience visiting your website. Quickly finding your reservation and asking about your journey are two ways hotel attendants establish trust upon your arrival. Have you considered how you are establishing trust with your customers? When online interaction is personalized or offers efficient support by means of chatbots, you are able to provide visitors an enhanced experience. This immediately establishes that you are organized, prioritize quality, and are a trustworthy source of goods and information.

In any good hotel, an attendant is available twenty-four hours a day simply by pressing “0” on the telephone in your room. This attendant can answer a range of questions and offer assistance. Offering real time results to your clients—while making good use of the personal computer in your customer’s pocket—is key. Certainly, this can be done over the telephone (as it is in a hotel) but enabling it through instant messaging using chatbots is one of the ways to ensure that when your customer reaches out, you reply right away. Remember, the goal here is a conversational approach that meets your client where they are. For example, if your customer sends the inquiry while waiting to pick up their children from school, your answer will be there when they get home. They can steal a few moments to respond while making dinner, and your response is waiting for them after bath time. Their issue is resolved, without setting aside time in their day.

Conversational commerce using AI offers your customers the service they want, how they want it, and in a way that is convenient for them.

Some hotels may use an automated phone system, but for more complex questions or complaints, a human interaction is needed. This two-level system is designed to offer superior and efficient service. It’s important to remember that AI does not replace humans, in fact it is a reciprocal relationship. Humans and AI working together is the next wave for conversational commerce. While your live customer service agent can use AI to improve their accuracy, they meanwhile inform the AI, improving its ability as well. The benefit here is the machine learns, improving over the long term, while your live agent is able to provide more accurate service. This symbiotic relationship between human and AI can ensure that the outcome is a really wonderful interaction.

Call the porter to take the suitcases upstairs! Your goal in CX is to provide your customer the Path of Least Resistance. Chatbots can quickly answer simple “FAQs” without requiring your customers to change which page of your ecommerce website they are currently shopping. Chatbots enable attendants to seem smarter, and in fact, be smarter. Imagine a chatbot that recommends the correct size to your customer based on past purchases or simple questions; it removes an obstacle to purchasing.

Ask a hotel concierge for advice and they’ll be able to send you to a great restaurant nearby. Likewise, VPAs are evolving from Assistance to Advice. This is a step further than reducing barriers to purchasing. Suggest things your customer wants before they know they want it. Past purchasing or browsing behaviors might lead to advice geared to increase add-ons and upgrades.

Using each of these technologies, we must remember, our customers are on a journey. Along the way, they learn, research, and make numerous decisions. We must think of their intentions and emotional state when they arrive with us, in our “lobby”, ensure they stay happy at each leg of the journey, and do our best to make their experience a positive one.

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