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August 15, 2018 | By

Guest Blog: How AI Can Help Drive True Five-Star Customer Service

If you’re on a mission to provide superior customer service, you’ll need to come to grips with two distinct and sometimes opposing forces: consistency and flexibility. Consider the paradigm of the grand hotel or five-star resort: On the one hand, the consistency you find on display is spectacular. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is such a stickler for consistency that it depends on over 3,000 company standards to ensure that everything is done for a guest the Ritz-Carlton way, regardless of which of its 100 hotels worldwide they may visit. These standards include:

  • How to cut a lime.
  • Which staff members need to be trained in the Heimlich.
  • When a piece of fruit is considered ripe enough to be cut and served for a room service or dining room guest.
  • How to make a bed.
  • Which personal belongings in a room to tidy up, and which to be sure to not touch.

(Sheesh! That’s only five of the 3,000 standards that make a Ritz a Ritz, leaving over 2995 to go.)

On the other hand, flexibility is what adds the icing to the luxurious cake of staying at one of these properties, a flexibility that’s in evidence from the moment a guest is greeted. The idea here is that no two greetings should be alike, because no two guests are alike.

For Mrs. Smith, it might be:

“Welcome back, Mrs. Smith! Have you shaved a few points off your handicap since we saw you last?”

For Mr. Rodriguez, it’s

“Great to see you and your family again, Mr. Rodriguez. Your son, Billy, sure has grown.”

Beyond a properly personalized greeting, other examples of flexibility can be seen in how these five-star properties create “wow moments” for guests. These “wow moments,” by their very nature, can’t be one-size-fits-all. What would be a “wow” for Mrs. Smith (who is all about the golf ) isn’t going to be the same as what would be a “wow” for the Rodriguezes (who are all about their kids). For the former, meeting a touring pro might be a memorable moment; for the latter, a beachside s’mores extravaganza on the final night of their stay might be just the ticket.

Of course not every company can (or is aiming to) be the Ritz-Carlton, but in every business the ability to personalize an experience is a key factor in keeping customers happy, engaged, and loyal. And, in nearly any type of business, well-implemented AI can be a powerful force for personalization and consistency. The first step here, again, is to develop standards that each customer interaction needs to live up. Happily, unlike in the resort scenario, you won’t need to train every single staff member to memorize the names and personal details of your best customers; you can use AI to do it for you.  By starting with a solid knowledge-base and layering conversational AI over it, customers will get consistent answers every single time regardless of channel.

In addition, AI can be a powerful force for the other essential part of superior customer service: flexibility. AI can drive flexibility in two distinct ways. First: Modern AI, like the AI leveraged in Bold360, can pick up on multiple cues from a customer–rather than relying on a single keyword or phrase–and adjust its responses appropriately. (It also can use the learning from such encounters to enable an even broader range of available responses in the future.)  Second: AI can afford a human agent more opportunity for flexibility in every customer interaction. AI does this by taking the friction–and exhaustion!–out of creatively personalizing human-on-human interactions.

Let’s face it: Under typical business time constraints, it’s hard to take the time to flex in a personal way for every customer; it’s easier, and superficially more time-efficient, to treat every customer the same. But with the support of a system like Bold360, a human agent’s ability to comfortably flex for every incoming customer is enhanced, via the personalized information on the customer’s history, situation, and verbal cues that that agent is receiving, on the fly and in real time–for a true five-star customer experience.

 

Bestselling author Micah Solomon is a customer service speaker and customer service consultant, and a leading influencer, thought leader, and subject matter expert (SME) on customer service, company culture, culture change, the customer experience, hospitality, entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership.


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