Study: Most Firms Say Customer Service Efforts are Subpar

Customer service and experience is key to success for most businesses, but 60 percent of companies see their efforts as subpar, according to a recent study by Reuters Events.

The study, Reuters Events: CX Trends in Travel, which surveyed more than 650 travel industry professionals from hotels, travel agencies, DMOs, travel tech providers and more, shows that despite this discrepancy, companies are hopeful about the direction in which travel is moving, with novel ways to communicate with customers and the newer generation gradually becoming embedded in the travel industry.

AI isn’t the Enemy

Artificial intelligence is here to stay, but will it take over your job? Probably not. That’s what 91 percent of those surveyed believe. Almost half (48 percent) of the respondents believe that artificial intelligence is the type of emerging technology that will have the most impact on customer experience in the next three to five years.

More4 Ways Artificial Intelligence Makes Travel Smarter

Virtual customer assistants and chatbots—which technology companies in many industries are using—was identified as the second-most impactful technology (29 percent). This is an area where companies are allocating much of their funds, according to John Morhous, chief experience officer at Flight Centre. “We obviously feel quite strongly that things like chatbots, automation, new booking flows and different ways of interacting with customers, especially in mobile, are huge trends that are shaping the industry,” he says.

Customer Service Barriers

Thirty-four percent of respondents named lack of skills in the workforce as a barrier to providing an exceptional customer experience, which could be due to the ever increasing roles that require a broader range of skills. The study uses the example of a traditional IT tech master who previously made a living in solitude, but now needs to have customer service experience and the ability to build a brand and marketing story.

Budget constraints topped the list of things barring professionals from delivering on customer service, with nearly half (45 percent) saying this is the case.

As we all know, a happy employee typically results in a happy customer. Sixty-three percent of respondents said their employees takes job satisfaction seriously, but the challenges of the customer service industry often result in a turnover higher than in many other industries.

Customer Engagement

This is the age of social media, but email remains the main form of communication respondents use to contact customers. Increasingly, people are using Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to engage with customers. For millennials, Instagram is becoming the main channel through which customers are engaging with properties and destinations.

Schofields, a United Kingdom-based research company, found that 40 percent of people under 33 years of age take “Instagrammability” into account when choosing their vacation destination. This explains why 35 percent of respondents in the Reuters study say they are trying to attract millennials as the greatest opportunity for growth.

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