When you think of call centers, your first thoughts may be of elevator music hold tunes, generic pre-recorded dial-in options, and of course, insincere agents. When it comes to properly trained hotel call centers, that could not be further from the truth.
As I’ve written in previous articles, call centers and call center agents are valuable tools for hoteliers that have the potential to increase bookings significantly, while freeing up hotel staff to focus on the current guests’ experiences.
Additionally, professionally trained call center agents have proved to be valuable information resources for your hotel. When a call center agent answers the phone, they not only represent your hotel, but they serve as an insightful knowledge center that sheds light on the guest experience.
First Impressions Matter
As the voice channel of your hotel, call center agents have the unique opportunity to carefully craft how they interact with customers.
We’ve all heard the expression that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” How your call center agents interact with your guests will set the tone for the guests’ stay and all future bookings with your hotel. A poor first impression can do more harm than just a lost sales opportunity, it can result in a poor review that can spread like wildfire over the internet.
The Ears of Your Business
As your voice channel, an expertly trained call center will increase your reservations and, therefore, your revenue with their in-depth knowledge of your property and their ability to sell guests on the uniqueness of your hotel.
Another benefit of working with a highly trained call center is the direct insight you will have into the customers’ thinking. Guests are often reluctant to participate in surveys and questionaries, so it can be hard to find honest feedback about their stay, their expectations, and their desires when they are booking a hotel.
A call center agent works as the ears of your business and is a direct link to guests. A knowledgeable call center agent will learn just as much from a prospective guest as the guests will learn from them.
The Difference is in the Training
Call center agents are able to act as the voice and ears of your business because of their expert training provided by the Kennedy Training Network (KTN). KTN call center certification requirements set a high bar for call center agents.
According to Doug Kennedy, founder of Kennedy Training Network, call centers that used generic certification requirements “had only 6 criteria, and yet the overall industry score was just 37%. Travel Outlook’s (the only hotel call center certified by KTN) most recent YTD score was 89% including these disruptive pandemic era months, and that is based on a criterion with 21 line-items.”
In explaining the certification process, Doug Kennedy notes that “for a call center to earn the prestigious KTN certification, certified call centers have to engage in KTN’s QUEST training for existing and new staff, but that’s really the easy part. What’s far more challenging is having to maintain a 90-day rolling average call assessment score of 85% or higher.”
Part of our KTN training involves encouraging the use of more and better investigative questioning to understand a guest’s unique “story.” This training cumulates to produce what is known at KTN as the story-telling approach that allows agents to narrate the pictures guests have already seen and reassure them of their decision.
The True Cost of a Not Using a Certified Call Center
Whether you’re using another call center or taking your reservation calls in-house, chances are whoever is answering the phone is missing out on opportunities to gather critical feedback.
Only KTN Certified Hotel Call Centers serve as the voice and ears of your business and help your hotel have a defining voice that shapes your brand, increase sales conversions, tunes into your customer’s true needs, and craft your brand’s image with an excellent first impression.
Rather than utilize in-house employees or sub-par call centers, trust the best, highly trained call center agents to represent your property when it matters. With travel on the verge of a boom like we have never seen before, now is the perfect time to outsource your voice channel a trusted, tested, and proven hotel call center.
John Smallwood is CEO of Travel Outlook Premium Reservations Call Center. In addition to the unique use of world-class call center technology, Travel Outlook is the only call center certified by Kennedy Training Network, the hotel industry’s best source for sales training and guest service excellence. Its luxury call team is tested by Forbes and Kennedy each month. Travel Outlook’s clients include many of the world’s finest hotels and resorts, including Viceroy Hotel Group, Outrigger, KSL Resorts, Proper Hospitality Group, Pacific Hospitality Group, Highgate Hotels, Columbia Hospitality, The Irvine Company, Catalina Island and many others.
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