Golden Nugget Wins with PolyAI

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Golden Nugget, a luxury hotel and casino chain that also operates 600 restaurants, was struggling to handle basic calls once the COVID-19 pandemic eased and people started traveling again. The issue, according to Brian Jeppesen, director of Golden Nugget’s contact center operations, was that though visitors were ready to return, contact center agents weren't so willing.

To handle that staffing conundrum, the company, which operates properties in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Laughlin, all in Nevada; Danville, Ill.; Lake Charles, La.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Biloxi, Miss.; and Cripple Creek, Colo., turned to PolyAI for an interactive voice response system that could handle many of the calls without involving live agents. That was a relatively simple use case, Jeppesen explains.

Building on its success with the IVR for simple calls, Golden Nugget execs looked to expand to a virtual assistant to completely handle reservation requests, some of which could be very complex. So near the end of 2022, Golden Nugget went forward with a very expanded version of the PolyAI virtual assistant.

"It really came down to how to make it easier for our guests to do business with us," Jeppesen explains. "We wanted to give them the chance to make reservations 24/7 with a virtual assistant. We were able to take a lot of volume off of the agents. It was able to take [callers'] information, look for availability, and book a reservation very simply and quickly for them without them needing to wait for an agent."

The primary consideration was ensuring that callers had a good experience, according to Jeppesen.

Before the implementation of the virtual agent, callers could wait on the phone a long time before getting through to a live agent, Jepperson adds. That option is still available for those who insist on talking to a human, but many are surprised at how quickly, efficiently, and accurately the virtual agent can handle the same request.

And though some virtual agents make it difficult for callers to transfer to a live agent, PolyAI's solution doesn't have that drawback. The virtual assistant knows when it can't handle a request.

"There are certain things that we have trained it to do. We've trained it to make full reservations for people. It can do that seamlessly," Jeppesen says. "There are certain things that will need to go to an agent. If anyone wants to speak to an agent, we've made it easy for them to speak to a live person."

Another benefit of the PolyAI platform is its natural sound. "The good thing about the voice assistant that we chose with PolyAI is that it is very conversational. It's a natural, human voice. It’s not robotic," Jeppesen says.

However, the biggest benefit, according to Jepperson, is that the virtual assistant has cut wait times.

"Many things that live agents can do, our virtual assistant can do more quickly because on-hold times are eliminated," Jeppesen explains. "I've seen studies that say 60 percent to 80 percent of people would rather speak to a live agent than to a virtual assistant. I also know that 100 percent of people just want to get their issue taken care of as quickly as possible. I've seen studies that say that people don't want to wait on hold more than a minute to get their issue taken care of, so they'll hang up. This just gives people the option to take care of the questions they have."

Since its introduction, the virtual assistant now handles 34 percent of all customer calls and 87 percent of all non-reservation requests, which has made it easier on the human staff to answer those complex calls more quickly. That has saved the Golden Nugget the equivalent of three agent days per week.

Jeppesen wants to continue expanding the use of the virtual agent and is looking into using it for booking reservations at the company’s free-standing restaurants (ones not part of the hotel or casino properties). 

The Payoff

The PolyAI voice assistant has achieved the following results for the Golden Nugget:  

  • handles 34 percent of all calls;
  • saves the equivalent of three agent days per week; and
  • handles 87 percent of non-reservation calls.

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