• September 1, 2005
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Accommodating Customers With Automated Agents

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Wyndham International, one of the hotel industry's premier names, with properties in Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, and the United States, understands the importance of a deluxe customer experience. But when acquisitions, conversions, and growth left Wyndham with disparate voice systems to greet and service calls fielded by its call centers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Irving, Texas, that experience needed an upgrade. Wyndham had calls coming in on various toll-free lines, and hinging on what number callers dialed they were presented with different voices and prompts. "It was really confusing to the customers," says David Mussa, vice president of reservations at Wyndham. Some calls were received by individual hotels, and then transferred to the hospitality company's call center operations. Adds Mussa, "We never really had an ACD." Mussa sought to implement a more unified approach. "I wanted to make sure that whenever somebody calls one of our two centers that they get a consistent experience," he says. Wyndham also wanted to provide its customers with choices for receiving service, and viewed a speech application as the right fit. But Wyndham had certain criteria including functionality, rapid ROI, and cost. "When we first started this project I [was told] 'It's going to take you six months to three years to deploy, [and cost] up to $1.83 million,'" Mussa says. "We just didn't have that kind of capital to spend." Looking for a solution that would fit Wyndham's requirements, Mussa wrote an RFP, but selected Voxify Automated Agents (speech applications equipped with conversational skills to handle advanced customer calls), in part because of Voxify's experience in the travel and hospitality sect. "The hospitality space is competitive, and I think it has considered speech in the past, but it hasn't been very successful," says Amit Desai, vice president of products at Voxify. "Speech traditionally forced you to choose between quality or cost. You could control cost, but then the quality would suffer. You could get very high quality, but that would be at an enormous price. That's kind of the context of what David Mussa and Wyndham wanted to do--and use Voxify to do it." Wyndham kicked off its Voxify deployment with the Welcome Agent, which greets callers and routes calls, and then added the Hotel Information Agent, which locates and provides information on hotels. The Welcome Agent and the Hotel Information Agent went live in just six weeks. These applications automate 13 percent of calls. In addition to the already installed Confirm Agent, once the Cancel Agent and Voxify Automated Agents for loyalty programs and hotel bookings are implemented, Wyndham expects to completely automate 45 percent of calls. Wyndham can also boast a ROI in less than two months, more than 90 percent call completion, and per-call savings of 85 percent. And by offloading informational calls live agents can concentrate more on revenue-generating calls. The hotel firm can even make changes in a day, which it had to do when it offered a 72-hour sale that required some hasty alterations to its call flows. To boot, Voxify's delivery model is a pay-per-performance pricing strategy, which Mussa says is a win-win situation. "If they don't increase their adoption rates, they don't make money, and by doing that we save money and they make money, as well. Most of these other models, they were going to dump the system on us whether it worked or not." Impressive ROI and adoption rates aside, Mussa also points out the consistent experience that callers now have. "You get the same voice and the same set of prompts, and we didn't have that before." The Pasyoff Deploying Voxify Automated Agents allowed Wyndham International to:
  • achieve ROI in fewer than two months;
  • enjoy per-call savings of 85 percent;
  • have more than 90 percent call completion;
  • expect to automate 45 percent of all calls once other Automated Agents are in place; and
  • establish one voice for the company.
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