Skills-Based Routing: A Quick Revenue Win for Travel & Hospitality Business Leaders

Keeping customers happy requires excellent customer service throughout their entire travel journey. Enabling skills-based and priority routing in your call center routing rules can help brands achieve better customer satisfaction scores, more productive agents, and guests that come back time and again. See how it builds revenue for your teams below. 

Skills-Based Routing for Travel & Hospitality

Today’s travelers are fortunate to have the ease of booking all of their travel needs with a few clicks of a button on their smartphones. And when something goes wrong or they have questions, they expect the customer service process to be equally smooth.

Research shows that when it comes to customer service, travelers want to use the channels they use most to get issues resolved quickly, fairly, and without hassle.  And organizations who don’t meet the needs feel it in their pockets with 60% of travelers saying customer service matters most when choosing which travel and hospitality brand to work with.

For industry leaders hoping to provide excellent customer service, keep loyal patrons coming back, and drive increased revenue, the lower hanging fruit lies within your call center. By connecting your VIP guests with agents who share commonalities, your organization will benefit from happier customers and increase sales from inbound bookings. And it’s made possible with a call flow tool called skills-based routing. 

What’s Skills-Based Routing?

Skills-based routing is a strategy used within call centers to direct customer inquiries to agents who best can handle the request. Also known as advanced routing, skills-based call distribution helps level-up the customer experience within the hotel’s IVR system before pushing calls through ACD software. 

Not only does this tool have major customer service business benefits, but it’s also very simple to set up. With skills-based routing, all you have to do is define your preferred  tags and assign those skills to agents. From there, your phone system will connect the caller with the best-fit agent based on their skill attributes including but not limited to:

  • Language
  • Department
  • Product/Service Expertise
  • Customer Size
  • Customer Industry
  • Social Media
  • Geography

Deliver a 5-Star Experience with VIP Routing

In a world where travelers define a company based on their quality of service, priority routing is critical for keeping guests happy and re-booking with you regularly. 

Also called VIP routing - a subset of skills-based routing - can be configured to allow your most valuable  customers to skip the call queue and immediately connect with a specialized agent. This ensures your frequent and top-spending guests are treated with luxury inside and outside your establishment. 

Once your call flow is set up, all you need to do is tag those customers as “VIP” in your communications system and add your agent capabilities into the software. It’s an easy win for travel and hospitality brands trying to surprise and delight their most loyal and valued customers! 

Why Hospitality Groups Need Skills-Based Routing to Drive Revenue Success

Providing new, returning, and VIP customers with the ultimate customer service experience is the obvious reason for your organization to apply a skills-based routing call flow. But additionally,  skills-based routing software equips your call center managers with the dashboards and analytics they need to make real-time, data driven decisions. 

These insights will help them seamlessly route your guests to the best fit agents. And in tracking the success of those interactions, they’ll be able to improve customer experience and drive increased reservations. 

Improved Customer Service Metrics

With skills-based routing , you’ll have the opportunity to improve a variety of travel call center metrics:

  1. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): By ensuring problems are addressed only by the most highly trained agents for the job, you will enhance customer satisfaction.
  2. First-Call Resolution (FCR): FCR is measured by an agent's ability to resolve queries the first time a customer calls. Skills-based routing enables skills matching, enhancing your agent’s chances of resolving concerns quickly and accurately. 
  3. Service Level: Service levels are the percentage of calls answered within a defined amount of time. With skills-based routing, customers are routed to an agent with the right skills and expertise. This results in fewer call transfers and hold-ups, improving your overall customer service levels.
  4. Average Handle Time (AHT): AHT is the average duration of the full call interaction, including the call initiation through post-call work. When customers are connected to agents who can best handle their inquiries, teams can reduce their overall handling times and maintain or ramp up to achieving the 80/20 rule.
  5. Increase Average Order Value & Lifetime Value: Having your agents trained in specialized areas allows them to become subject matter experts. As they listen to your VIP guests' needs, they’ll have the ability to suggest upgrades, exclusive packages, and other offers that will enhance your guest's experiences with your establishment. And this, of course, can result in a longer LTV for that traveler. 

Workforce Optimization

Skills-based routing also has the ability to improve your call centers operations. From staffing, communications, and savings, workforce benefits include: 

  1. Enhanced Agent Performance: Less time spent on call transfers, gathering customer info, and post-calling activity means higher productivity.
  2. Happier Employees: Skill assignments provide your agents with career progression. Increased opportunities to advance in their roles results in happier employees and higher agent retention rates. Not to mention, helping customers they’re qualified to help results in smoother interactions and building long-term, profitable relationships. Happy customer, happy agent!
  3. Decreased Operational Costs: Statistics show that better customer service can lead to more revenue. In fact, businesses can grow revenue between 4% and 8% when they prioritize customer service. Not to mention, when your employees are happy you save from reduced turnover, and quicker call resolution means more customers to connect with. 

How Travel & Hospitality Brands Leverage Skills-Based Routing

Skills-based routing, while a great advancement for your call center, can go beyond the phone. You can also implement it across chat, social media, and more to improve your omnichannel communications strategy. To give you the big picture of what this tool can do for you, here are some use cases to help you envision the possibilities for your specific industry:

1. Hotel Groups

Scenario: Keeping VIP customers happy

Customer loyalty is extremely important– especially among the hotel industry. Nearly 60% of room nights at major hotel chains are booked by loyalty members. So keeping your VIP customers happy is key to your bottom line. Here’s a scenario in which VIP routing could be valuable. 

Let’s say a loyalty member is calling from a Mexico phone number and they lost their hotel reward card and need a new one. Your hotels are in North America and you have inbound support in both the U.S and Mexico.

 In your phone system, you’ve configured your team with the following skills:

  • Agent 1: English, Spanish, Reservations and Cancellations 
  • Agent 2: Spanish, English, Rewards, VIP
  • Agent 3: English, Guest Relations, VIP

This caller would be routed to Agent 2 because they’re a top tier agent who’s fluent in both English and Spanish and has experience assisting customers with their loyalty program and rewards. Since this agent is trained to specifically manage VIP and rewards customers, they were also able to suggest an upgrade to your customer for additional points. The customer is enjoying their luxury view, and your hotel generated extra revenue within minutes. 

2. Airlines

Scenario: Upgrade seating and flight change

Your airline call center receives an inbound message from a gold-tier frequent flyer looking to bump their flight up a day and upgrade their seat. Their IP address and associated phone number are from Dubai and the traveler’s destination is London.

In your phone system, you’ve configured your team with the following skills:

  • Agent 1: English, Travel Services, London
  • Agent 2: Arabic, Baggage, UAE
  • Agent 3: French, English, Vacations

This traveler will be routed to Agent 1 because they’re the most versed in travel service assistance, which includes updates to travel itineraries. Arabic and English are two common languages spoken in UAE, so the traveler will likely be able to converse with the agent on the other line.

3. Cruise Lines

Scenario: Information requests about family-friendly fleets

Your team receives a social media message from a couple who lives in Spain and travels annually on cruises. Having just started their family, they’re hoping to learn about your Italy cruise fleets with the most family-friendly activities onboard. 

In your phone system, you’ve configured your team with the following skills:

  • Agent 1: English, Reservations, Charter, Meeting & Incentive Sales
  • Agent 2: French, English, Guest Services, Lost & Found
  • Agent 3: Spanish, Italian, English, Guest Experience, Guest Relations 

Your SBR immediately identifies that this couple messaged your cruise line in Spanish, so they’re connected to Agent 3 who not only speaks Spanish but is highly experienced in Guest Relations. 

4. Tours & eComm Travel Agencies

Scenario: Add on a winery tour for an upcoming trip

A German-speaking couple calls up your call center to make adjustments to their upcoming honeymoon in France. While your agency has already planned out their itinerary for museum visits and a Paris tour, they were hoping to squeeze in a romantic champagne tour and need your help scheduling it. 

In your phone system, you’ve configured your team with the following skills:

  • Agent 1: French, German, Bookings & Customer Service
  • Agent 2: English, German, Loyalty Rewards & Travel Credits
  • Agent 3: Spanish, English, French, Travel Emergencies 

The couple is transferred to Agent 1 upon calling so they can update their booking through an expert and speak to someone who is native in the German language. 

Skills-Based Routing vs. Other Routing Rules

When it comes to your call center, there are several queue-based call routing rules you can use to connect your customers with an agent. All have their place and reason within an organization’s phone system, so why are travel and hospitality businesses eyeing skills-based routing to deliver a better guest experience? Below, we’ll compare and contrast which call routing strategy is best. 

Pro Tip: If your agents are feeling burned out from taking a majority of the calls, it may be time to look at your training sessions and focus on building up the skill sets of others to alleviate the heavy volume felt by your highest-performing agents. Call recording can help those learn through listening and reviewing their peers’ interactions. 

Without skills-based routing configuration, you could be putting your guests’ experience at risk. If a caller is routed to an agent incapable of handling their question and prolonging the resolution time, customer frustration will grow and they’ll likely move to a competitor. The right cloud communications provider can help streamline your queues to increase satisfaction and grow revenue. 

Omnichannel Queue-Based Routing Routes calls to agents within a particular channel queue. Very siloed and more difficult to maintain service level benchmarks. Designed to match customers to agents based on multiple skill sets the agent possesses. More streamlined for omnichannel communications.
Fixed Order (Sequential) Calls are distributed to agents in the order they’re listed every time. Customers are assigned to agents most capable of solving their unique challenges and requests.
Least-Used Calls are routed randomly to agents within your queue. Calls are routed to best-fit agents.
Time-Based Routing (Time of Day) Agents will only be assigned tasks during working hours. Calls are forwarded to other teams or agents currently available. Calls are routed to other agents showing online but with tagged commonalities.
Round Robin Call will route to agents as they appear in the queue. If agent line is busy, the call will move to the next available agent and so on until the call is answered. Calls are routed to agents who are best equipped to handle them. This could lead to higher volume for those agents compared to others who don’t share the same skill sets.

1. Use customer data to set agent skills

A great place to start skills-based routing configuration is through the lens of your own customer data. If your call center software has integrated with your business technologies, look for touchpoints like: 

  • The most common inquires your company receives
  • What locations are guests frequently calling from
  • What languages your guests speak
  • Which departments have the most inbound call requests 

Once you get an idea of shared commonalities among your traveler or guest inquiries, you’ll want to prioritize the skills your contact center agents need to better improve customer service. 

AVOXI Integrations Dashboard

2. Optimize your agent and IVR distribution

Next, you’ll want to evaluate your agents based on their skill levels so you can adequately optimize distribution. You may want to have your call center managers have agents fill out a questionnaire, survey, or even host interviews to drill down on the types of skills and proficiency levels your agents contain. 

Once that’s complete, categorize those skills within the queue and prioritize them. For example, if you discover a trend of Australian travelers or guests calling with billing questions, ensure that your English-speaking agents with billing expertise are routed to those calls. 

Furthermore, you’ll want to ensure that your international IVR system is aligned and setup for your customers’ needs. A few IVR must-haves include:

  • Personalized greetings for quick and accurate department routing
  • International routing to ensure your customers reach the right reps at any time 
  • Custom routing to combine your IVR and ACD , offering callers the most efficient experience possible 
  • Analytics to ensure you’re measuring routing and agent performance for success 

Without these features, your guests could experience inefficient routing flows and confusing menu options that could derail your benchmarking and ruin their inbound experience. 

Cloud-based-IVR-hosted

3. Have quality management in place

Lastly, you’ll want to be sure to measure the success of your skills-based routing through quality management for future optimization of your contact center workflows. 

Contact center solutions like AVOXI offer a complete suite of reporting and analytics tools and dashboards to give you a holistic view of call routing strategies and agent performance. These tools enable you to:

  • Quickly run real-time and historical reports like total calls, average talk time, and call outcomes by team or agent
  • Measure the impact of IVR on your call metrics
  • Send automated performance reports to team members 
  • Benchmark your call center performance against your business service level agreement to ensure you’re meeting and exceeding customer expectations. 
  • Give your managers call monitoring and real-time analytics dashboards to provide agents with the tools for ongoing coaching.
Analytics Teams Dashboard

Deliver 5-Star Experience with Intelligent Routing

Skills-based routing is a great option for travel and hospitality leaders who are looking for a simple, quick-win way to enhance customer service and delight loyal customers. 

With customer service being a significant revenue driver in the hotel and travel industry, efficient calls and a direct line of communication to agents who are best equipped to handle unique cases and inquiries are critical to the experience your guests have with your brand. 

Modernizing your communications is essential for today’s rapidly-evolving tourism ecosystem. AVOXI helps travel and hospitality brands seamlessly integrate multiple phone systems, connect your global call centers via unified IVR, and intelligently route guests to the right agent for a top-notch customer experience, every time. 

Want to see how we've helped brands in the travel and hospitality industry? Read our Destinia case study here

Drive Reservations & Revenue with Skills-Based Routing

With advanced routing in your call center, you can easily deliver best-in-class service to your most valued guests. AVOXI's cloud platform empowers brands to assign, organize, and easily manage their agents based on customized skills, further increasing workforce optimization and productivity.