With more of the population getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and authorities lifting health restrictions on vaccinated individuals, people are anxious to travel and attend live events. After more than a year of restriction, this pent-up demand is exciting and daunting for the travel, hospitality, and live events industries.
Live Nation, a global leader in live entertainment, expects an increase in event attendance this summer and “a blockbuster summer 2022,” as concerts and tours resume full force. STR and Tourism Economics even recently upgraded their hotel occupancy forecast for 2021 to 53.3%, compared to a 48.6% forecast in January.
All signs point to a flood of travel and recreational activity that’s already happening and will continue for at least the next year. And since these industries had to reduce staff in order to survive the pandemic, they’re now scrambling to hire to meet the increased demand.
Hiring and training new agents is slow though. Also, the shift to remote work has expanded where contact centers recruit from and made it more competitive. Matt Magnuson, VP of Call Centers at Extended Stay America, says, “If you talk to most contact center leaders, they’re expanding their geos. Even folks that are staffing or recruiting domestic call centers where they might have just had a small geographical area, now that’s expanded.”
The result of short-staffed contact centers is long hold times that remind you of the early days of the pandemic.
Current hold time to speak with someone at Delta is 7 hours 40 minutes.
The summer of travel/labor shortages.
— Morgan Housel (@morganhousel) May 25, 2021
Customer service leaders need to get ahead of this increasing customer demand and the continued unpredictability over the next year. Rather than hiring thousands of agents, increasing overtime, and outsourcing, the most savvy leaders are leaning heavily into automation and customer self-service during this time. To prevent their contact centers from getting flooded by calls, they’re using voice AI to efficiently scale and achieve the elasticity that’s needed to easily conquer any surges in call volume.
Elastic customer services gives contact centers the power to quickly and efficiently scale up and down
Elastic customer service is the method of using artificial intelligence (AI) to scale customer service up and down based on customer demand, without ballooning costs, training new agents, offshoring, or planning for seasonal fluctuations. Voice AI answers every call immediately — no matter how much your call volume spikes. It eliminates hold times, engages in humanlike contextual conversations, and solves over 90% of Tier-1 issues. This improves customer satisfaction and leaves human agents free to handle issues that require empathy or complex resolution.
You’ll be ready to handle any surge in call volume by just turning the AI on. There’s no need to give a heads up to the vendor. Voice AI automatically scales without any delay to help contact centers navigate unpredictability and unanticipated call spikes.
Elastic customer service also gives you an additional “workforce” at a much lower cost than outsourcing or hiring, which is particularly helpful for contact centers that need to scale on a reduced budget. You only pay for what you use, creating elasticity in your costs. When call volumes are low, your customer service capacity contracts to save you from paying for more agents than needed.
How voice AI can be applied to your call flows
For live events companies, all inbound calls from customers needing to verify or rebook their ticket could be handled by voice AI. There’s no need to loop in a human agent unless it’s a complicated situation or issue.
Hotels and airlines can leverage voice AI to resolve calls about reservations, ticketing, and FAQs that many customers will expect to be answered accurately and quickly. These types of high-volume, transactional issues can easily be handled by voice AI.
An elastic customer service model gives contact centers a new level of agility, flexibility, and scalability they’ve never had before. With the flood of travel and recreational demand that’s expected to continue into 2022 and consumers that expect fast customer service, now is the time to adopt elastic customer service for your contact center.
Get the details on how you can do this in the Ultimate Guide to Elastic Customer Service: Ensuring Your Contact Center Capacity Always Matches Demand.